Volume III, Issue II Summer 2004


The Search for Opacity

Charlene is a prolific writer, having had not only her poetry previously published, but theater reviews and columns as well. She's contributed to everyone from Investor's Business Daily to the La Jolla Village News. She was also a contributor to "Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul."

Joseph DeRugeriis was formerly an assistant conductor at San Diego Opera, principal conductor of Opera Theatre of Chicago, and artistic director of the San Antonio Festival. A resident of San Francisco, he died of AIDS while on holiday in New York City.

There are times when only an opaque wash will do;
when you have seen the City through the mist across Mission Bay,
but lack the requisite technique to make it real.
So you ponder storms and the method of creation,
seek to shroud what is inevitable: coming to terms with his death.
You feel him near on morning walks,
hear him breathe in phrases of Tchaikovsky on the car radio.
You rewrite his obituary a thousand times, duplicate his portrait,
and drive it to the newspapers, which give his life a few lines,
but never say, never know what he meant to you.
No page can hold this.

You may no longer share with him the absurd chaos of life:
the coffee shop where everyone under 40 wears earplugs
and communicates only through laptop e-mail;
the operatic "Streetcar Named Desire" you saw,
without melody, as conceived and directed by Stanley Kowalski;
this morning's Theatre of the Ridiculous: a ragged man,
his bicycle rack stacked with recyclables,
riding south on Midway Drive, talking on his cellular phone.
Nor may you conjure for him the image of John Malashock,
under the arcade in perfect light as he discusses his art;
nor ponder aloud the sensuous nature of Richard Avedon's mouth,
the perceived cruelty of his vision.
You will never bathe together in the cloying romanticism of "Pride and Prejudice,"
debate the demands of "Twelve Monkeys,"
compare yourselves to Carrington and Strachey,
marvel at the overload of your days since his death...
your frantic search for opacity.
It is useless.
He is dead.
What remains is to weep for the hours you meant to share,
the broken date in New York, the unused airline tickets,
all the unspoken words of your eternity.
No page could ever hold these.


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