a shooting star in emergency

I thought I saw a shooting star
not far above the height of my head
on the road outside the fence-line
it moved fast enough to create the illusion
but soon
too soon
became just a car
travelling the highway
lights reflected
on the overhead wires
of the electricified train line
and in a moment
it was gone

I feel I am a bookend to their relationship

I was there at the beginning
a dinner in a formal restaurant
jean-jacques
maybe the eatery by the sea
maybe their other place
I no longer recall
but I was there
the day she and he came out together
that first time
the time it all began
to have a form and a shape

they married
both with the baggage
that comes with certain years
but they made their arrangements
and lived on through a decade or so

then our occasional convergence
constant friendship rekindled
as required
never a drama
always there if needed
I find I’ve gone on that way with so many
through the years
these ‘certain years’
that we who are now of that age
that was once the preserve of our parents
and their middle-aged friends
pass through on our individual journeys
to wherever it is we are travelling
the place where …
I don’t really know

and now I am here
at the end
after their catastrophe
the death in the middle of
everything
that has been eked now
for forty-eight hours
while decisions about his lingering life
the viability of his organs
about the certainty of decease and its aftermath
are made with solicitous care
about someone I once knew
and while I am only a peripheral
yet I have my role
in the whole of this
process
the series of steps and consequences
for I cannot resist the call
to be the moral support
observer and dispassionate adviser
the ears and a heart

I was there when it all began
and I am here now
at the ending

it is not death that traumatises here
but that the simple man he was
would have wanted so much less
than he has been given
it is the excess that is cause for trouble
the tests and procedures
to confirm the knowledge
of a certain death inside his brain
and the absence of the soul
that must reside there
so much time before the pronouncement
in these things lies the pain
and the distress to all
the delay to commencement of grieving
and a closure

but it is nearly done
the beginning and the end
accounted for
it is late now and I have been affected
in the morning
it will be completed
tubes removed
organs taken and despatched to god knows where
some other victim in need
of a saving
the corpse prepared for viewing
with the best decency good-will can muster
for this man who died
two days ago
but has not yet
been allowed to stop breathing

I was there at their beginning
and now I will remain
until the end
the deposit of ashes
onto the moving water
of the bay

you know I thought tonight
for a brief moment
that I had seen a pair of shooting stars
skimming low
across the horizon of Station Street
I know it was only an illusion
only the reflection of a passing light
but for that fleet moment
I thought
it might be real


© Frank Prem, 2002

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11 thoughts on “a shooting star in emergency

  1. The semblance of shooting stars was real enough. 🙂 I feel as if I should offer you my condolences. What we really want to say is, thank you for letting us stand there with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The shooting stars…..that is not such a common sight. So perhaps they were indeed there for you. This is a very moving piece Frank in the way that you tell it so ‘matter of fact’. Just as it is in life. Matter of fact.

    Liked by 1 person

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