[the Writing of Kuypers][JanetKuypers.com][Bio][Poems][Prose]




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Andrew Hettinger

I never really liked you. You never revealed yourself to me, and why would you: you, who never had anyone, you, who always had the bad breaks. Everyone looked at you as different. Where would you have learned to trust? Who would you have learned it from?
I never really liked you. I met you through a friend and he explained to me that multiple sclerosis left you with a slight limp and a faint lisp. Faint, under the surface, but there, traces of something no one would everknow of you well enough to fully understand.
I never really liked you. You never revealed yourself to me and I never wanted you to; you scared me too much. You, plagued with physical ailments. You, with a limp in your walk. You, with a patch over your eye. You, who stared at me for always just a bit too long.
They told me the patch was from eye surgery with complications and now you had to cover your shame, cover someone else’s mistakes, cover a wrong you didn’t commit, cover a problem not of your own doing. The problems were never of your own doing, were they.
I heard these stories and I thought it was sad. I heard these stories and thought you had to be a pillar of strength. And then I saw you drink, straight from the bottle, fifteen-year-old chianti. And I saw you smash your hand into your living room wall. This is how you lived.
The house you lived in was littered with trash. Why bother to clean it up anyway. It detracted you from the holes in the wall, the broken furniture from drunken fits. This was how you reacted to life, to the world. You didn’t know any better. This is how you coped.
I never really liked you. You would come home from work, tell us about a woman who was beautiful and smart that liked you, but shewasn’t quite smart enough. And I thought: We believe anything if we tell ourselves enough. We weave these fantasies to get through the days.
I never really liked you. Every time you talked to me you always leaned a little too close. So I stayed away from the house, noted that those whom you called friends did the same. I asked my friend why he bothered to stay in touch. And he said to me, “But he has no friends.”
This is how I thought of you. A man who was dealt a bad hand. A man who couldn’t fight the demons that were handed to him. And with that I put you out of my mind, relegatedy ou to the ranks of the inconsequential. We partedways. You were reduced to a sliver of my youth.
I received a letter recently, a letter from someone who knew you, someone who wantedme to tell my friend that they read in the newspaper that you hanged yourself. Your brother died in an electrical accident, and after the funeral you went to the train station; instead of leaving this town, you went to a small room and left us forever. Strangers had to find you. The police had to search through records to identify your body. The newspaper described you as having “health problems.” But you knew it was more than that.
And I was asked to be the messenger to my friend. The funeral had already passed. You were already in the ground. There was no way he could say goodbye. I shouldn’t have been the one to tell him this. No one deserved to tell him. He was the only one who tried to care.
I never really liked you. No one did. But whenI had to tell my friend, I knew his pain. I knew he wanted to be better. I knew he thought you were too young to die. I knew he felt guilty for not calling you. He knew it shouldn’t have been this way. We all knew it.
I never really liked you. But now I can’t get you out of my mind; you haunt me for all the people we’ve forgotten in our lives. I don’t like what you’ve done. I don’t like you quitting. I don’t like you dying, not giving us the chanceto love you, or hate you, or even ignore you more. My friend still doesn’t know where your grave is. I’d like to find it for him, and take him to you. Let you know you did have a friend out there. Bring you a drink, maybe, a fitting nightcap to mark your departure, to commemorate a life filled with liquor, violence, pain and death.
I never really liked you, but maybe we could get together in some old cemetery, sit on your gravestone, share a drink with the dead, laugh at the injustices of life when we’re surrounded by death. Maybe then we’d understand your pain for one brief moment, and remember the moments we’ll always regret.




U.S. Government Copyright
Chicago poet Janet Kuypers
on all art and all writings on this site completed
before 6/6/04. All rights reserved. No material
may be reprinted without express permission.

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