Reading: Death of a friend by Rob van Moppes

Rob van Moppes (b. 1948) is a Dutch writer. I am his friend on social media and discovered this tender song-like poem today, so I decided to include it in my series.

Death of a friend

We met only two years before.
Eyes sparkled when she spoke.
We talked about the masks we wore,
Considered life a joke.

She said she lived in solitude:
Books were her only friends.
(She longed for love and fortitude
But never made demands).

She hanged herself in the shade
Of books that made her ill.
I held her in my arms too late
And felt a stabbing chill.

A girl so cold and warm and bright
And no one shared her bed.
She asked me twice to stay the night.
Oh God, I wish I had.

The first stanza conveys the enthusiasm of such playful meetings, the aura of vitality, the embrace of the ironic stance toward life. I imagine the voice that would sing this, Leonard Cohen perhaps.

I get the longing for love and the return to books and solitude. Not so sure about the part in brackets, I assume the lady was a shy and humble character. The sudden suicide shocked by. Simple words, one gets the impression they were put down because of forced rhyme, but it aptly describes the horror of the scene.

The author implies that he could have saved her by staying the night, perhaps by making love to her. Does that allow us to maintain our ironic gaze at the world, at each other? Does holding each other warm at night prevent the outburst of black energy that plagues the bipolar soul?

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