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On Friendship to JF–A Letter in Verse

6 February 2010

I thought of you this morning, as I always do,
When the sleep-encrusted eyes first wake
And I myself rouse to take those faltering,
Weak steps toward the heav’nly window
Lighting the candles to receive the Light
In my morning prayers; I admit, often despair
Clouds my thoughts of you, and grief touches
My recollections because of the manner
(And the matter) of our parting.  Perhaps it was
All foolishness and vanity, my thoughts of
And dreams for you; vanity, my pride thinking that I
Could drag you to salvation, kicking and screaming,
When I am too weak of will to save myself,
Even by uttering the most feeble of prayers.
If our friendship was ever real, I wonder
Of what type it was; in your wild hunger
For human love, I don’t suppose you listened
To me talking of the kinds of philia
That Aristotle defined so long ago;
Were we but friends of utility–could it be
Me supplying a need for you, and you for me,
(Although at cross-purposes, as it turned out)
And nothing more?  That leaves a sore
And sour taste in my mouth, so I choose to doubt
The reality of that conclusion; thus, my confusion
Continues, and I think that we were, indeed
Fellow revelers of the same pleasure, who take
Delight in one another’s company, but turns to hate
Once the pleasure is ended; yes, I think that is where we
Might have been–no better than drinking buddies–
Friends based on the shared delight of commiseration,
And our choices, once made, separated us entire.
But, Old Friend, there is the other level, the one
That in my foolish, vain, stubborn pride
I desired to share with you, and spoke of so often;
The friendship of the “second self”–true brotherhood
And companionship of the soul, whose gift
To those so favored is to nurture each toward virtue,
The same of each for each, as iron sharpens iron.
It is my shame (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa)
For sharing those thoughts with you, unready as you were
To hear the loftiness and glory of that which I myself
But dimly understand, and thus, perhaps it was
That I lead you to believe I spoke of some other thing-
Far less than that filial love which is changed and exchanged
By the Descent of the Dove; I lament the sorrow of your choices,
Old Friend, for we are human beings–we alone have the power
Of Choice, to choose to be and to do what we are and we will,
Not mere animals reacting to input stimuli–but how can I
Whose choices have all gone ill presume to instruct
You, you who were the sum of my hopes for new youth
Untouched by the withering frosts and fires of pains
Brought from so many wrong choices, so many stains
Upon the pure good of the Soul?  I sigh, and weep,
Knowing that you have chosen that most flighty mistress, Desire,
Whose touch and taste and smell are a raging, inner fire
That cannot, by means possessed of any man, be quenched;
And, though I know–full certain–that she will leave you cold,
Perplexed, and wretched…for friendship’s sake, I cannot watch
Nor take part in your coming sorrows, which would
For the sake of the love that I do bear you
Crush me, at last, in utter and dreadful despair.
Old Friend, I know this–my choice–brings you to confusion,
But if friends we ever were, I beg you, spare me your dark delusion.

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