Charles Chaim Wax
The Greatest Mystery - Poem by Charles Chaim Wax
1: 47 at night, still loitering on the Pier
with the usual crew
when old Tom Duffy walked by unsteadily
and as he passed under one of the lights
his face emerged haggard and white as a sheet.
“Tom, ” I called out. He tottered to us.
“How’s everything? ” I asked.
“Bernstein, my son died, ” he said
bursting into tears crying like a baby.
“You’re still alive, ” said Hugh Stryker.
The remark took everyone
by surprise. Even Joe Devoe was shocked
and when he was deep into depression
it took a lot to shock him.
“You’re still breathing, ” continued Stryker.
“A sad life, ” sighed Tom Duffy,
“a sad life, and then to die
in his mid-fifties of stomach cancer.”
to lose their father, ” said Joe Devoe.
“Never married, ” sighed Tom Duffy.
Devoe stepped to Duffy
then gently kissed him on the cheek
lingering, perhaps needing to smell
forever, but finally pulling away, saying,
“Over and over in the lives
that have ended you see
no miraculous lunge into happiness.”
Duffy went on voice hoarse
worn ragged from weeping
“I told him, ‘Go out. Meet a woman.’
I told him a hundred times
but my wife said,
‘There’s time for girls.’
Now...in the grave.”
“Gone but not forgotten, ” said Devoe
wanting with all his heart
to shift sorrow
everywhere and for all time
but without God’s grace
so Tom Duffy still wept
staring at the vast Atlantic
dawn yet to come, if at all,
for a father in darkest grief.
Then another kiss
Devoe’s lips trembling
longing for purity enough
to sing that lullaby
he had sought all his life.
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