By: Rita Malenczyk
for Mike Cole
When I saw your note under the beer can I thought
Wait, what the hell, who has been here
Because I’d given myself up to the thought
That no one was coming to the grave, not really,
Not his buddies who left the cans, not even the coach who thought
That planting the hockey sticks there would matter,
Would keep him alive, my son who thought
He could get away forever, could leave
This horrible place of pain and thought and
Sorrow, could stop wondering where he fit and
Just leave, he just left and never thought
About us, about me, all of us stripped and raw and
You, you left that note, telling us you thought
He was alive, really, in you and your
Life, your girlfriend you brought to the grave, you thought
You’d introduce her to him, tell her you thought
He was always here, always, as long as we thought
About him, remembered, never forgot, never
Died,stay alive, stay forever, never die.
Rita Malenczyk is an English professor, writer, painter, and printmaker living and working in eastern Connecticut. Her creative work, including her visual art, has appeared in Writers: Craft and Context and Beyond Words.
"My 19-year-old son Nick died by suicide in 2019 after a battle with bipolar disorder. This poem was written after I'd visited his grave, as I do regularly, and found a note left there for me and my husband by a friend of Nick's, telling us how he'd been there with his girlfriend and how important Nick had been to him. I started thinking about how people live on in others' memories after they die."