Robin, Anthony, and Me
I haven’t watched a Robin Williams movie in five years.
Never mind wondering if I was the only one in my high school English class who
really loved What Dreams May Come when our teacher made us watch it
or growing up singing songs from Aladdin, screaming songs
because you ain’t never had a friend like me!
How many years has it been since watching the world scratch its head
over what exactly it was rattling around in that head of his?
How do you grieve someone you don’t know?
Anthony Bourdain has only ever been a vaguely familiar name to me,
and through all the Instagram eulogies and clamoring headlines,
I still don’t know that I know him, could or should have felt like I did.
But I can hear his words about privilege and getting the fuck over yourself
still chasing my questions about what he meant, and why he’s gone,
and it’s odd that I can only relate to him in this one way
when everyone else tells me he is worthy of all our anguish.
But again, how do you grieve someone you don’t know?
And then again, how do explain what you do know?
The recognition that the same fire that fuels the glint in his eyes,
the gleam of his smile, the burning speed of his wit
and his cadence and his energy and his everything,
can also be wild. Consuming. Violent. Lawless.
The same fire ripped from my belly and focused in the form
of a cold ring of steel on my scalp, scraping at the temple door,
a moment that ricochets around the shell of my skull
until I can’t even hope to find the origin point anymore,
or remember how many times I shook out the bullets
from the chamber of a revolver safer in the closet
than it could have ever been in my hand.
The proximity of a bullet to my brain feels like something,
something like proximity to famous dead men in the worst way,
something similar to what it must have felt like
right before it all ends for someone else you know
or want to know, or think you know, or thought you knew.
And the therapist tells me, you have to grieve for yourself too, the person
you thought you were before you can empty your precious head
of all these damning, haunting, intractable things.
But please, how do you grieve for someone you don’t know?