Poem as Raft / Texting the Ether

To commemorate Jordan's life 5 years after her death, we have been posting a series of blogs every day for the past few days. This 7th piece was written by Dyar, Jordan's friend. 

A few months after Jordan’s death I found this poem, December 4th, by Anne Sexton. Suspended as I was, in a kind of numb stasis, submerged a few feet underwater in the silty depths which constituted my resulting depression, this poem, like a harpoon, pierced right through me and yanked me to the surface, tears and toxins billowing out around me. I could breathe again.

December 4th

And where did we meet?
Was it in London on Carnaby Street?
Was it in Paris on the Left Bank?
That there that I can thank?

No. It was Harvard Square
at the kiosk with both of us crying.
I can thank that there—
the day Jack Kennedy was dying.

And one hour later he was dead.
The brains fell out of his dazzling head.
And we cried and drank our whiskey straight
and the world remembers the date, the date.

And we both wrote poems we couldn’t write
and cried together the whole long night
and fell in love with a delicate breath
on the eve that great men call for death.

-Anne Sexton

Sifting through all the fantastic memories and experiences together for their origin; personifying and actually thanking a place for containing the beginning of your lives together; finding comfort in witnessing a bit of a companion’s darkness that maybe mirrors your own…I could go on and on about how this poem spoke to me. I came across it haphazardly, flipping to a random page in Sexton’s Complete Poems, yet it became for me a mantra and a life raft which I clung to, an arrangement of words that contained within it the full, tumultuous range of sadness and joy which flooded me when thinking of her, when before I had been unable to create that for myself.

We were never romantic, but I loved Jordan, and it was after high school especially that our relationship came to mean so much more to me. Wherein, sadly, many of my other close friendships among my high school class faded away, Jordan and I joined forces many winter, spring, and summer breaks for wild escapades to Austin for New Years, to a beach house on the coast for a late summer week, or traipsing giddily around our very own hometown suburb like we were lighter than air.

In these times I saw a comforting equal, someone also from my home now growing up just as fast and turbulent as me, equally with a whole set of new, completely different friends we couldn’t imagine meeting just years ago. And equally, I saw someone with new burdens, or shadows about them at times. The handful of direct, cathartic discussions we had about the new things troubling and shaming us during this period of growth were vital to my then mental health. And knowing that we could talk together about the depression we sometimes felt, and how comforting it was for me to do so, makes it all the harder to know, during the last time I saw Jordan, only a couple weeks before she took her life, that she was so consumed by and lost in the disease that she couldn’t reveal to me the truth of why she was home early from school that semester.

At the end of that difficult year I went to a New Year’s party at a friend’s cabin on some land in the country, and was pleasantly surprised to find that Matt, Jordan’s little brother, had come as well. Late that night, well after the clock had struck midnight ringing in the new year, I was sitting alone off to the side on the high porch overlooking the property, and I watched Matt having fun with his friends, in that moment seemingly as giddy and silly and carefree as any college kid surrounded by his buds, and I missed Jordan so intensely then that I (fueled a bit perhaps by alcohol) called her number on my cell phone.

I heard some strange beeps, a digital hesitation of sorts, and then a ringing, as if the call were going through. It shocked me, sent my pulse racing, but I quickly realized it was different than the standard ringback tone. It was a slightly higher tone, I think, at longer intervals. Must have been some weird middle ground between the phone losing service and the number being deactivated, I never investigated further. It went on and on. I sat there, I don’t know how long, just letting this eerie ringback hum go and go and go. For some reason it was comforting. Like a simultaneous confirmation that she was truly gone but that I had really reached out to her right then. After hanging up whenever I did, I sent her phone number some texts as well. I texted that Matt was being silly and that she’d have loved it. And I texted her a few memorized lines from the poem above. This was the first Jo grief session of mine after which I felt...pretty ok.

- Dyar Bentz, Program Director of Light the Trail

(Prom ’08. Wow, look at that dress. Ignore idiot in joke tux.)

(Prom ’08. Wow, look at that dress. Ignore idiot in joke tux.)

Posted on March 31, 2017 .