Still Up There

I've wanted to write a Ton/Face poem for a while and had been mulling ideas and images over in my mind. Then I read Diana's excellent essay: "To Be Or Not To Be," and found the central idea I needed — Ton's struggle with his semi-cyborg identity — for the structure of the poem.

It's set just over twenty years after the events in Iron Fist, and on the planet Halmad where Ton died. I guess you could regard the poem as a kind of celebration of true friendship.

A bit further, and Phanan said, in a hoarse whisper Face could barely hear over the whine of the repulsorlift, "It's up there again."
~from Iron Fist by Aaron Allston~

It's quiet here
beside the river
the sun stitches
patchwork squares
on the turf
the breeze
like an animal
warm at my ear
nudges the leaves
to whisper their stories
the past year the sum
of their living memory

the reeds quiver
and somewhere
a hand rises in
their midst, waves

that's one story
the leaves can't tell
their memories wiped by
the endless cycle of death
and renewal

that's my story
the hand
a trick of the light
a snapshot from a past
over twenty years young
a hand pale, strong
skilled as befitting
a surgeon yet
not averse to violence
nor afraid to dream

a human hand
yes definitely human
the hand of my
friend, Ton
who died here
gazing at the sky
with his one human eye

Ton, my irascible friend
his humour cutting
with surgical precision
yet more often than not
his own flesh felt the nick
and slash, squirmed

not exactly self-hate
but close
too good a psychologist
that was Ton's problem
too articulate
a self-declared
superior intellect
that saw only too well
its own weakness

superior intellect and wit
a status he enjoyed of course and
a prerequisite he generously bestowed
in honorary form on friends

superior intellect and wit
if only you knew how much
I miss that little joke

and he was right
they are a dying breed
dying because they
do the right thing
analyse, calculate
their own needs to be less
important than the many,
refuse to surrender in case they
compromise their friends
and die because
they're human

and dying IS proof
of humanity

I never doubted that but
I knew he did sometimes

he knows now though
knows that humanity runs
deeper than flesh deeper
than any cyborg face
than any outer armour
real or assumed

you can tell because
it's so quiet here
serene, no stirrings
of a troubled spirit
no uneasy ghost
the crater I gouged
when I destroyed
his mortal remains
in a hail of fire
is a pool framed
by wild flowers
fire transformed
into water
death and renewal
just like the leaves
and like us too

the trees, hills
river are still here
the Halmad sun
is still up there
like you Ton
still up there
in my mind
imperfect, fallible
unique in the way
humans are

and missed inexpressibly
missed as only a friend can be

Paintings of Halmad Sunsets and Solari Sunset by Wraith6.

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