lament for a friend

who killed himself when young

if there must be a paradise
let it be for those who died young
we who are old will have our requiems
the young should not be left to die unsung

I want to sing a lament
for a dreamer and youthful companion
who one sunset waded into the bay
and swam and swam to oblivion

in the image I recall most often
he is the beautiful young man
laughing with us over dinner
a noble future at his command
I sensed no darkness inside him
as we chatted together that day
and saw no reason to worry when he said
that he was thinking of going away

why did he choose to die that day
did he know as he entered the water
that he would not come back
that our world would forever be altered

I remember that once I kept swimming
beyond where I could see the shore
drowning they say is kind of peaceful
but it felt very cold down there

was it a moment of madness
that took my friend down to the cold
when he first felt the chill of the water
did he mean to abandon his world
was he suddenly stunned by regret
about something that happened years ago
something he never wanted to talk about
something that was corroding his soul

we’ll never know why he did it
that’s the trouble with death
we want somehow to commemorate it
but we can’t when only sorrow is left

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