Second-hand Death

Ritika Narayanan

I've heard it whispered,

I've heard it said aloud,

I've heard it passed around
a thousand times.

I've heard it in my mind,
Dissolving all sense of reality.

I've heard it repeated,
Echoing hollowly.
The subject ceased existence.

It hurt me, every time I heard it.
It hurt me more, when I feigned relaxed.
Gut-wrenching pangs, not of grief nor anger,
Hurt me every time I remember
That sweet face that now sleeps tranquil.

But my pain is second-hand
-it doesn't belong to me-
It's owner and bearer
Is hurt more than I can imagine.
I have tried and failed to imagine, though.

I do wish this pain had never come,
Not to the bearer, nor to the sharer.
(And may it not happen to the sharer in actuality.)

Coward, I am, who cannot face the fact
Of death, all pervasive intruder
Into normalcy.

Though I grieve as the one no more
was one of my own,
Nothing could compare to the grief of the one
Who grieves because it was one's own.

My grief is second-hand as is the death.


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