To RD Caughron

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Echo Of A Friend

In Memory of RD Caughron

Goodbye big heart, big man
big laugh, spittle and all,
filling our dining room
waking our baby Alanna
dropping the jaws of the unacquainted.
Good for you
Whale of a man!

I want to hear
your laugh again,
a mighty echo round the peaks.
I imagine it from your last perch
locked beyond and above us.

Buried in the heart of Makalu,
your love affairs with the mountains
are over.
You knew her kiss
might kill you.
Still you went,
and didn’t leave
in her stormy spell.

* * *

In the face of your death,
I am helpless to stop the images.
They sooth the pain
and are the pain. 
They keep you alive in me
and me alive in the mountains.

I hover above you,
squint from below.
I sleep and forget
wake and remember
sock the pillow—wham.
Clack clack
goes my tired brain.

I question:
your last position
pondering the land below
arm bracing your chin, they say.  
And how did you die?
Improper to ask,
impossible not to.
It doesn’t matter.
Yes it does.

I imagine:
you buried to the chipping of friends’ axes
embracing Makalu
and she enfolding you
in dazzling blue ice.
Better than dissolving in dirt
or scattering as ash.
What will it be
for me?
It doesn’t matter.
Yes it does.
Clack clack.

You see?
I keep on,
wringing out my mind
making me sick,
or is it well?
I must be done with you now—
goodbye, good friend, goodbye.

* * *

Hell!  As I look
to the mountains
they echo again—Aahaho…
Go away man—
no, come back, friend.

Tom Higgins
July 2002