"Unforgotten": A Poem for Diao Ying

Illustration by Charlie Shifflett

Illustration by Charlie Shifflett

There is sadness
waking in the middle of the night
to the face of an old friend
staring back from the grave
she dove into
from the 17th floor of a building in Beijing.

It's not the leap,
nor the coming apart,
but the falling that haunts me,
the space between
the sickness and the cure,
the finite and infinity’s black hole.

(Death takes us all in different ways.)

In these early morning hours,
my mind foggy from the medication,
I can't remember her name
for the life of me,
though I try and try.

Until the next day...
While my puppy chews rawhide
and the sun warms the bonsai
clinging to life on the salvaged apple crate, 
her name returns to me.

(How could I have ever forgotten it?)

Poem and illustration by Charlie Shifflett