Ten Years On, poetry by Julian Matthews at Spillwords.com
Yong Chuan Tan

Ten Years On

Ten Years On

written by: Julian Matthews


I no longer believe that absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Or that time heals all wounds.

What does anyone know about loss and grief?

Grief is a stalactite of memories that have calcified in my mind
and pierced my very core
– down to the floor of my heart.

It grows.

Loss drips in a cave full of echoes of you –
it’s like you fell through a hole,
a void, an abyss and no one noticed,
nor heard your cries.

It’s like a key broke in the keyhole,
and I can no longer open your door,
enter your room.

Or call this our home.

I stare out the window sometimes
and the mountain of you has disappeared
from my horizon.
The ground between us has shifted,
our rivers no longer meet.
Even the blue of the sky is overwhelming.

Sometimes I dream we are both lost
and wandering on the same island.
I can almost see you just beyond
the next bend of the beach.
But the trail to you has gone cold,
a heavy mist hangs over this never-ending “mystery.”
The oceans no longer whisper your location.
The waves are silent.
Only the wet sand remains.

Every time I am at the airport I scan
the boards for your flight code in Arrivals,
even though it no longer exists –
except in Departures.

I wonder why MH370 had to be the acronym
that identified our collective heartache;
who wants their husband, wife, father, mother,
son, daughter, friend to be labelled
with two alphabets and three digits,
or just a hashtag?

I want you to know they are not numbers!
They are living, loving, breathing human beings.
I want you to remember their names the way you remember
the names of roads, rivers, mountains, oceans.
They are not a manifest, a flight list.
They are manifestations of love,
tangible, touchable, huggable,

Listen, you may not hear me speak of my pain
but I am fluent in tears.
My silence is my resilience.
We are 14 nationalities, 239 lives,
a patchwork quilt of humanity
sewn with the veins of memories.
A bell tolls in every town, in every country.
You can hear it, if you still have empathy.
Yes, you are not obligated to find them, we get that–
but neither do you get a free-pass to abandon them.

To abandon us.

I can’t say goodbye because I haven’t buried her yet.
There are no ashes to put in an urn, or scatter in a body of water.

There are no bodies.

Even falling rain is cupped in a puddle, turns into a stream.
Even fallen leaves in a river look like life rafts.

All we have is debris, washed-up broken parts,
But it can’t make up for the shards in our hearts.

A thousand paper cuts and we, the surviving souls,
can’t stop the bleeding.

A million cuts from this missing plane
yet we can’t stop believing.

Ten years on, no closure.
Ten years gone, search on.

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