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Honour Your Inner Magpie

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"The Declaration" by John M. Ford, and "Response [...]" by Elise Matthesen
elf hill
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,
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,
"Look at the hands!
You can see them move. Is
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.
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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...

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.

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.

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.

Many thoughts to you, Elise. Hugs and soothing strokes.

I am reminded how I met Mike first in fannish journals after he'd published in Issac Asimov's under Scithers and then wrote humor for the Cult. A strange and distant time.

Take care of yourself Lioness.

I knew him not out there in the world beyond my computer screen. I only had the luck to know him through his posts on Making Light. But I'll miss seeing what he had to say, and even now I'm still wiping tears from my eyes, after reading this for the third time this morning.

I wish you peace. My thoughts are with you, even though we are strangers. Be well.

I went to bed last night right after reading that you were going over to check on him. I woke up this morning with an empty feeling in the pit of my belly.

The news was already on an SCA household list I belong to and my second reaction was a flash of pure grief, for you and for us all.

My first reaction was a searing clear memory of Mike in the middle of a roomful of Klingons on the very top of his form in a session of 'Ask Dr. Mike'. The room was rocking with laughter, people were shouting out remarks and Mike was spinning one of his crazy clever lines of patter. And in the middle of it all his eyes fell on you and somehow he lit up even more, which I would not have thought possible.

Whenever I think of him, that's the picture that comes to my mind; talking, laughing, making others laugh and think, and loving you all at once.

Oh, my dear Lioness. I am so very sorry to hear this. All that you have said about your dear Mr Ford showed him to be a wonderful human being. *big fierce hugs* offered if wanted.

(And that tea-tray in the corner? That's for you. The tea will never go cold or bitter, and the fairy cakes and other Lioness treats will never go stale. Take tea and comfort as you will. You and everyone else who loves John are in my thoughts.)

My deepest condolences.
Loss hurts, but love IS forever.
*virtual hugs and a hand to hold on to...