Background Notes — Phantom Limb
As brief as this poem is, it needed to be even briefer, down to dead silence.
Maggie and I took the lead on it, but all of us worked it to where we were prepared to post it. We would have welcomed many more collaborators on it, yet still it would have come down to one choking cough.
We are about to lose the life of one the members of our group. We will never lose her voice and we will never lose her dream and we know we will always have her love and the light in her eyes. But absent an outright miracle, we now know we are all but certain to lose her life before this time next year.
Treatment? We won’t go into all the details of her private life, but she doesn’t mind it being evident that while the life she is losing does not put the life she is carrying at any risk beyond the next few months of sharing, she would threaten that new life if she tries to cling to her own.
I know from my own experience that her courage is not false when we hear her speaking of her horizon with such glowing terms. To her it will be like losing chains that have felt unbreakable, and she will fly far and high and will sing openly and without end.
To us, until we join her, it will be like waking in the middle of the night to know with complete certainty the word that fits precisely in the best poem we will ever be given the chance to write, then waking in the morning to find we hadn’t written the word down and can’t remember it, and we can feel it out there, but it’s gone.
To us, it will be like losing a leg, then still feeling it cramp.
Sara, we love you.
— alias, for maggie and your other friends