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.”
“Poor kids
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
the sadness
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.’ the grave.”
“Gone but not forgotten, ” said Devoe
wanting with all his heart
to shift sorrow
everywhere and for all time
into joy
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
of deliverance
he had sought all his life.

Comments about The Greatest Mystery by Charles Chaim Wax

  • (4/24/2006 8:45:00 PM)

    This is magnificent poetry, Charles. The humanity, the compassion and tenderness, the timeless dealing with the mystery of death and loss and survival. Reaching out to touch another to let them know someone cares is a great gift. So is this poem.

    With respect,

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  • (4/24/2006 1:02:00 PM)

    There is no greater sorrow that that of a parent losing their child charles. The way these men comfort is humbling and as Wendy said, heartbreaking and profound in their humanity and love of their friend. Thank you for sharing this, it makes one feel grateful for what we do have. 10 from momma watching her boys! Tai (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 24, 2006

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