Did Berlin kill you,
Your last stop,
the dark side,
the self-mutilating pains and sufferings
captured by the photographer
whom you too kindly described
as non judgemental,
yet whose attention celebrated the evil.
Did it get to you too deep?
So deep and personal
that you could not shake if off,
and just carry on, as normal?
Your sensitive soul,
inclined to self-blaming;
Your acute sense of justice,
after seeing too much,
the bloody, the gory, the silent screaming,
the twisted howling,
the uninhibited exhibition
of craze, thirst, Dante’s infernal…
And the compounding of all demons
from your past,
You simply could not go on
If I could just shake you, shout at you,
“Wake up! Wake up! It was just a dream!”
But it was not.
You have seen evil. You have known evil.
But there IS salvation, Anthony Bourdain,
There is the ultimate redemption, my friend,
my passionate, compassionate, curious, authentic,
poetic, genuine, unpretentious, complex, endearing friend,
Don’t you know?
There is only so far you can go,
so much you can see,
so long you can be.
For however zealous you used to feel
about people, culture, food, travel,
however talented you told their stories,
you never could tolerate
the mere thought of covering up human suffering.
And you came to the end of your power
to carry on
as if nothing happened.
You gave it all:
not reporting without engaging
not one facet but everything.
You exposed your soul, your heart, your thin body,
and I wondered sometimes,
how you stayed so thin with so much devouring.
You felt that you could no longer laugh,
dine and wine
It got you.
I could shake you, and yell at you,
please don’t feel so deeply,
Just stay superficial,
just pretend that you didn’t see anything at all,
How could you?
How could you not?
You could only honor your authenticity,
you could only live,
by not going on
I was so mad at you,
at what I first thought
as a selfish way to go.
“How could you do this to us?
You betrayed my trust!
I thought you were truly life loving,
How could you just checked out of life
in this fashion,
this cruel to yourself?
Whatever darkness you could not endure?”
Now I seem to get it,
or what I want to believe:
Either you could do something
to injustice, emptiness, indifference,
or be consumed
by the very darkness you struggle to fight,
in helplessness, what you thought.
It is unthinkable
to go on with your child-like curiosity
once your soaked yourself
Your way of leaving us
punched a hole in our innocence.
Yet I thank you
for your light,
For being exactly you.
© Joanne Tan, 6/11/18 All rights reserved.