portion of the artwork for Zoe Boroughs Fechner's essay

Elegy for Sean
Zoe Boroughs Fechner

Even now I see how he tried mightily to speak to us, the words shaped on his lips, puffed hands shaking to be untied. But no air at his command left us incommunicado.

Did he try to say, “Goodbye”? I wonder.

Ian asked, “Papa, are you scared?”

“No!” he shook his head, wanting instead to bellow.

The nurse explained how he needed to heal, learn to speak again, using a button, gain control.

“Arg,” he wanted to roar, but he had no power to command the air.

“He’s a poet.” I said, looking away.

He glared at the nurse pumping stuff into his I.V., no gentle glance. Then in revolt he turned his head and closed his blue, blue eyes.

“See you later. Get some rest,” we said and left.

But he died.

He had had a voice once, when he was still Edward (before he reinvented himself) a soprano that the priests at Don Bosco fought over. Then he had that tenor that could melt and bend the air. He sang, “I Got Me Flowers.” He intoned his incantations.

“Grandfather Tom”
Narratives of New Netherland

He had had a way of being there. He told his guests, “Here’s cantaloupe,” as he cut and gutted the fruit over the garbage pail, dumping seeds and rind before their eyes, eating his slice with his fingers, juice running down his chin. Then he had the elegance to say, “Have some.”

He had had a mind that roamed far and wee … like the goat-footed balloon man of e.e., that understood the geology of mountains and the chemistry of rivers, the pull of Mars and the trembling of kings, that could soar above the chaos and float in a dream.

* * *

For my true account
I lay down at ease
The comfort of spine

My fingers trace
the lace of skin
About my throat

I have no pale confession

Aye, for this self killing
The laying down
The ease of neck

I be graced, dear God
In no swart room—
To be witness
Let each corpse bend knee

I cannot calm
This slipping out or in—

The way my eyes are full of air,
And how my tongue is left to bleed
With all my throat decay.

(from the collection of poems called Experimental History: Lyrics For a Masque on the Murder of Charles I of England by Sean Farragher)

He had a sensibility (his God) that adored the unlikely rebellion of the crocus, that had a love affair with color and line, that gloried in the seduction of pens and inks until they oozed with relief and often eloquence. Such creations!

* * *

Sometime in my country
at the outward part of river
Wild flowers so fragrant

I stand still not knowing
what I am meeting; so many
and rich the birds I can
scarcely go through them
for their whistling

Light can hardly be discerned
where they fly
the fox chases them like fowl

Their notes salute the ears
of travelers with harmonious
discord, and in every pond
and brook, green silken frogs
warble their untun’t tunes
to hear a part in this music

Strawberries dye the wood red.
Instantly, I arm myself with wife
and rush violently into them
never leaving till I have disrobed
them of their color, turning them
into an old habit.

(“First Discovery & General Description of That Part of the Country Called By Our Countrymen, New Netherland” by Sean Farragher)

And from
Wild Child: Spring
for Edward

Spring is the rebellion of the crocus
Wrestling with the ground.
The forsythia and the child sweat
And the earth bangs a drum

Then, the rain comes,
And we watch the white below the green,
And the brown crust,
The black below the sea

* * *

He had had a need, such a need to consume everything, to know everything, to imagine anything. He was full of himself, overflowing, out there, flowing, becoming a cloud, crying in dismay over politics and war, rewriting history.

I wish. I wish
It were 1965 again.

And spring
Was coming

The rainy season
Not far off

In Saigon
Is recognized
By Johnson

An item
On the 23rd page
Of the Times.

(from “Orphans and War” by Sean Farragher)

He had had a sadness, soft as a queen bee for those he’d used up—mothers, lovers, sons and daughters, playmates, far flung friends. He’d loved us like he loved his butter, saying grace when it was too late, then calling:

“Wait, wait! Didn’t I really see you?” and “Doesn’t that just blow your mind?”

Zoe Boroughs Fechner was married to Sean Farragher from 1977 to 1988. They raised three children: Daria, Ian, and Kathleen.

Table of Contents

FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 40 | Spring 2013