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Companions in the Dark

There are people you meet on a stormy night

who you remember forever.  They gather darkness

around them, flash and thunder in your ears,

then slip away.  Yet you live out their stories

as if they were your own.  How shooting drugs

or alcohol had triggered lightning, tongue and

finger.  Confessions in a mental ward strapped to

a bed, babbling about betrayal, the Via Dolorosa. 

Memories that don’t belong to you suddenly

familiar as pain.  A public flogging by a sweating

muscled interpreter of The Law.  A hundred

lashes, teeth clenched in an ineffable smile.


This is how I feel every time you come to me

pleading to share your story.  There is nothing

I can give you now except my own.  Darkness,

rain and lightning.  An unlit intersection, monster

truck upon us, car spinning from the impact, your door

torn open, your body flying away, crushed under wheels.


A lifetime of flogging strapped to this bed has not sufficed

to numb my story’s telling.  Will you remember me as I

attempt to share with you that stormy night.  Will you wake

somewhere, reach out in darkness, hold my hand in yours?

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© Johnmichael Simon



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