Had I but known it was the last time I would look
Upon your face, into your eyes…
I would have lingered there.

Had I but known it was the last time I would feel
Your very presence, next to mine…
I would not dare have let go.

Yet now, they’re only memories, barely kept
In the recesses of my mind,
Threatening to tell me you never were

As you said, forever mine.
Then you were gone.

Had I but known it was the last time I would breathe
Your very essence, take in your scent…
I would never have exhaled.

Had I but known it was the last time I would taste
Your tender lips, with honeyed kisses…
I could not have pulled away.

Yet now, they’re only demons, taunting me
Within the dreams of restless sleep,
Making me believe you have returned

To be, forever mine.
Then you are gone.

Had I but known it was the last time I would hear
Your words so tender, full of love…
I would have blocked all else out.

Had I but known it was the last time I could sense
The bond between us, sworn eternal…
I would have prayed for its recapture.

Yet now, they’re almost gone, departing me
As if you never were, or did not care,
Beseeching me, forget the love we shared.

An empty space, forever mine –
For you are gone.

© 2012 Jody Love

Recesses. Published in World Poetry Movement (compiler), Great Poets Across America: A Celebration of National Poetry Month. ISBN: 978-1-61936-035-8.

(Author’s note: I’m sure the loss of someone we love, under whatever circumstance, resonates deep within our souls. I term it “the without within.” As 9-1-1 poignantly calls upon us again today to remember loss in conglomeration, it amplifies that empty space for many, individually and as a nation – and even as a world desperately in need of love, forgiveness, and understanding.)


3 thoughts on “Recesses

  1. First of all, allow me to repeat myself. I am very honoured to have been invited into your space. Thank you so very, very much. I am very happy that you “got” what I was trying to say with my poem and that, in turn, you thought that I had gotten it, too. I am sorry if my poem conjured up painful memories for you. However, I respect you for how you dealt with your feelings in this case and am glad to be here with you to talk about Recesses.

    I think it is exquisite!

    I find that, at times, when some writers attempt to emote from the heart, they end up bleeding all over the page. To read such work becomes painful and, not in the way the author intended. However, you used beautiful language that never strayed into the maudlin. The repeating pattern of, “Had I but known…” helps to unify your poem which, in turn, gave it the foundation it needed to build to such an emotionally searing close. Under the circumstances that this poem was written, I think you have created a lasting memorial to those lost in that terrible moment when everything changed for so many (including you, I am to assume?).

    I am profoundly sorry if 9-11 touched you directly with personal loss. I have experienced the agony of a prolonged loss due to the long, slow decline of a loved one’s body to disease and infection. Those times are depressing and very tough to deal with. However, luckily for me, I have never had the experience of a sudden, unexpected death of anyone in my immediate circle of family and friends. I cannot imagine dropping my daughter off at school in the morning (like so many parents did at Sandy Hook) and never seeing her alive again. I cannot imagine my wife going to the grocery store and never coming back home because of a car accident or the like. No loss is a good loss but, at least with the slow death, you have time to say good bye and to prepare your mind and heart for what is to come. Sudden death shatters our world, beyond any question. If that was your experience as a result of 9-11, you have my deepest and most profound sympathy. If your reaction, eventually, was to create Recesses then, that says a lot about the quality of your character. It is easy to allow bitterness and hatred to colour your reaction. It takes courage and moral fortitude to channel grief into something positive and beautiful that may help you, as well as helping others, too.

    I am not from New York so I am not aware if there is a formal museum or memorial for the victims but, if there was to be such a place, I think your poem would deserve to be included in any exhibit/tribute that might be planned. Your ability to use language to put a human face on the devastation of sudden loss could serve the needs of many others, less eloquent, who lack the vocabulary to express the sadness in their hearts. In times of tragedy and darkness, I fervently believe that it is the poets and artists and musicians who lead the way back toward the light.

    With Recesses, you have illuminated a path for others to follow. Thank you for writing such a moving ode. Thank you, again, for allowing me to share it with you. Your kind and generous gesture made my day. 🙂

  2. Thank you for all your kind words, Tom. It was a gift of empathy I was trying to offer based upon a mixture of my own understanding from a personal tragic loss, as well as the conglomerate loss that still haunts us as a country to this day. You expressed the horror of that and other similar tragedies so well. The memorial to 9-1-1 is incredible, literally being monumental recesses in the ground of the spaces where the towers were, with flowing water in each, reminiscent to me of continually flowing tears of grief, but also the cleansing renewal we associate with life-giving water. Thank you for personally taking the time to be willing to share of yourself with me too. I was touched by your own description of your loss and my own varying loss experiences of my heart understood the comparisons you made – where one allows for a bit more time to make peace than the other. In either case, I’ve found my inner recesses sometimes create a vacuum that pulls on my soul when I least expect it. Peace to you, my friend. -j

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