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"The Declaration" by John M. Ford, and "Response [...]" by Elise Matthesen
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elisem
Some of you know that back in 1998, Mike was invited to be Guest of Honor at the Sixth Klingon Year Games, which at that point was a fun and smallish camping event to the southeast of where we live. When discussing possible festivities, one thing led to another, and, well, we had a ceremony. The way Mike put it was, "The Klingon Empire has decided that it is time for us to formalize our relationship," but truly, I was the one who asked him. Which means he takes my house name, or line name -- sorry, I am not thinking all that clearly just now, and the nomenclature has fallen out of my head. Anyhow, he wrote a lovely set of vows for us, which he titled "Declaration of Unity," and printed up a little program-booklet with that and a poem I had written for him earlier called "Response to an Unwritten Poem of Yours Called 'Sorrow for Breathing'". As Mr. Ford said himself, in writing, "This Declaration may be used by others wishing to make such a statement. The author politely requests a word of acknowledgement and, perhaps, the turn of a glass at the celebration." Here are the two things, together, as they were together in the booklet; as he was fine with me posting them to various Klingon and Trek-related places before, I am confident that he and his literary executor would be fine with me doing so now. Also, well, I seem to need to just now, so here they are.
The Declaration

If any should ask why we are here, together, now, let it be said that we were brought here by a force stronger than suns, which is Will.
Ours was not a random course, though chance strengthened it.
We were not always sure of the way, and some of our steps have been slow, but our next step spans worlds.
Time will not stop for the strongest: and though we must go where it takes us, without companions chosen by the will and the heart, the journey is empty, and there is nothing to measure the victories by.

One partner: I stand here with you because together we possess infinity in a finite space of time, and our combined reach surpasses the mortal.

Other partner: I stand here with you because we have seen in each other a shared task: and though the void may separate us, and matter must always fail, we shall never truly be apart, one from the other.

Together we take joint and equal command of the time still before us, to watch and to defend, to endure the cold and the fire, to stand until the last.
For against that power armies are as nothing, and Death itself comes begging and ashamed.

Each partner in turn: None commanded that I should be here: I willed it be.
Let strength and joy follow from it.

As light spreads from the birth of a star, so the stars surrounding see it, and remember.
What they cannot do is judge.
Judgement comes only from the mind and heart.
For that, we are here among all of you.
Let noble wills magnify the light.
Answer us, and know the stars hear you:
Is this well done?

-- John M. Ford, 1998



...


Response to an Unwritten Poem of Yours Called "Sorrow for Breathing"

You tell me I should not love you
should not;
You'll only bring me sorrow,
only die on me.

"I need what you give me
more than I need sunlight,"
you say,
I tell you I've always suspected
your vampiric nature.
You laugh.

"How could I not love you?"
you say.
"As well not take in air, as well
not breathe;
to sorrow for loving you would be
like sorrow for breathing."
And you take my outstretched hand,
drawing me on
to another city,
another chapter,
another of the long lamplit nights
where we pause, panting for breath,
waiting for the quill of the chronicler
to catch up.

"As well not live as not love,"
I say to you.
As well try to convince the lungs
not to draw in that next
measure of air
as teach my hand not to reach
for the curve of your cheek,
my foot not to take that
next step
bringing me into the circle
of your arms.

Each breath, you remind me,
is one closer
to the time when all the breath there is
will do one of us no good,
and the other of us will turn alchemist
transmuting good air to sobs
or sighs
or silence

Each step is one closer,
is one more bead on the string
that leads to the dangling cross
of grieving.
The tiny carved features look up at me.
As well not love as deny this grief,
wrapped in the joy of what is
like a sweet the color of garnets
wrapped in bright foil.
I finger the beads,
listen to your warnings,
hearing under them
your need,
your desire.

"I am not sorry for loving you,"
you say,
and I know you are thinking
of inevitable losses.
You conjure a smile from somewhere.
Our eyes meet.
And still
that pinned figure
arms splayed, mouth in rictus,
swings at the end of the string.

There are mystics who talk
about Peace in the Passion.
There are country folk who walk the fields
after the storm,
quietly,
watching for the bow
across the sky
and the sparkle of rain
on bent stalks.

I remember the night
you brandished an imaginary clock at me,
hissing,
"Look at the hands!
You can see them move. Is
this
what you want?"

What I want
is all
of this: each breath,
each step,
each bead on the string,
and the cross, too,
if that's part of the deal.

"Only another fifty years,"
I say, "and then I promise
to let you go."

"I can't guarantee you five,"
you rasp, waving
at the bottles of meds
on your tray.
"Hell, I can't
guarantee you five months." And I
catch your hand in mine
and say, "No one
ever could, dear heart,
ma croidhe.
But as well not breathe,
as not love."

Amd whichever ending
the chronicler writes,
pray one of us
will have the wit
to step outside whatever small room
shelters that private passion play,
stand in the cool night,
look up,
and draw in
a lungful of stars.

-- Elise Matthesen, sometime around 1995 or 6



I love him. I miss him. I will love him forever.
(And, you see, both of us knew what we were getting into. Hearing me say that, he would smile, I know. It would be a smile of agreement.)
OK. Am going to go sleep now, and wake to do the things that need doing.
Tags: , ,

You do not know me, and I do not know you. Neither did I know Mr. Ford, or of him, except through the 2 ST books by him that I read, and that I both enjoyed immensely. Nor did he know of me, except perhaps as an anonymous face in a crowd of readers.

For what little it is worth, still, you have my condolences, and my thanks for sharing those. They are beautiful, and a fine tribute to both of you.

Thank you for sharing that, it is incredibly beautiful.

I am so sorry for your loss. Please take good care of yourself.

I don't know you well, I think I've met you twice at OVFF; I surely wouldn't expect you to remember at a time like this.

But the stars have seen and they remember. I am so very sorry for your loss. Your beloved was and remains a great inspiration to me, if knowing that helps; he will be missed, and always remembered.

~Kiri (Azalais Malfoy, on badge; also Kihanna tai-Verrai, KAG)

I'm so sorry. You've offered me comfort for smaller pain than this; if there is anything I can do, please just say so. I'm thinking of you.

Thank you Elise for letting us have him as long as we did.

My thoughts are with you.

Felicia

What they all said. I never knew anybody else who could do song lyrics or poetry like Mike Ford; the way he understood words, and the uses to which they could be put, was simply off the top of the scale. I did not know him well in person. (I remember once running into him on a city bus; we were cordial enough, but I didn't know what to say.) But I know how important he was to you, and to so many other people. *Hugs* and shared sorrow. And there is absolutely no question that love is worth it, even when it has to be cut short.

Nate

So very sorry for you loss...

Elise, I am so sorry. I don't know either of you save online, but his presence, both in his own posts on Making Light and in your posts here, was so vivid.

Between this post and the one on Making Light, I'm sitting at my desk weeping. For a man I never met. Let this be said of him: that his loss brings even strangers to tears.

The above is me. I'm so verklempt I can't even tell if I'm logged in or not.

You posted "Response to an Unwritten Poem of Yours Called 'Sorrow for Breathing'" on alt.poly in 2000. It has come to my mind often since. Thank you for sharing Mike's powerful "Declaration" here as well.

Thank you for sharing these.

I saw that he'd passed when I scanned alt.callahans and I came straight here to offer you what comfort I could.

*offers of hugs*

(A thousand of bread
A thousand of beer
A thousand of every good thing
May he ascend!)

Elise --

The center of Minicon for me was always you and Mike. I can remember you two talking to an unpublished SF writer and making me feel welcome. I have always admired Mike, for his brilliant novels and poems and for the funniest paranoia game module I had ever read.

In person, I found him to be a gentle, quiet soul whose wit astonished and delighted me.

A while ago, you issued me an artist challenge in the form of a green necklace called, "Even before it melted." I never submitted the story I wrote from it back to you, in part because I was struggling with the ending, and with what the story meant. Now all of a sudden I have had a moment of clarity and realize what the story is truly about... It is about choosing to love when the odds are against you.

When I finish it, I would like to dedicate it to Mike and you.

Hmm

Thank you. I would like that very much, and I believe Mike would too.

I cried when I heard. Your words together help.

May the light of his star shine on you long after the star is gone.

--
LoRe

You have my hugs and condolences. And my sorrow, which doesn't go into words so very well.

I'm sorry for your loss.

Thank you so much for sharing these with us. My thoughts are with you.

I am truly truly truly sorry, Elise...

Having gone through this myself earlier this year, I can truly say that I unfortunately know how you feel...And you have my utmost sympathies and condolences....I didn't know John very well, but what I did know, I liked alot...

Take care of yourself, and I do truly mean that...

(Deleted comment)
Love to you, Elise, in deep sweet thankful breaths and thank you for Loving, which is after all, sweeter yet than breathing, being as it does go on beyond, beyond, utterly on beyond breath.



Josh called to tell me; not having really known Mike myself, my first thought was, "Oh, poor Elise!"

But there is nothing in the least poor or pitable about you or the love the two of you shared--share--and I'm very glad that you and he had those years together (sanctified by the most concise and incisive marriage vows I've ever read; thank you for posting them, and I'm rather sorry I'm seeing them too late to adapt for my own wedding).

I hope you have good people around to help you brace against the grief. I'm so sorry for your loss.

elise, i am sorry for your loss...hugs and blessings.

(Deleted comment)
Terribly sorry to hear of Mike's passing, Elise. To me, one of the major perks of working in the back office here in Charleston has been getting to know you and Mike during your visits over the years. Mike had such a lovely mind, I would remember pieces of our conversations long after. More importantly, he was one of the gentlest, sweetest guys I've ever met. His presence is still palpable.

If there is anything I can do, let me know.

My heart hurts for you.

So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing those words. They moved me more than I can say.

a friend of a friend of a friend

I am so very sorry for you and all of us. Even from the briefest meetings, the loss of a wonderful person and a great artist is devastating.

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