The night I heard you died, my heart whispered over and over - you saved me you saved me you saved me.
How cruel is it then, that I am still here - growing each year closer to your age. All these years I've held in my private grief. I didn't go to your memorial. I ignored all requests to meet community in remembrance of you. Everyday pretending you're still here, just somewhere else, still reading your poetry to crowded rooms. Still reading your poetry. Still
hand to your heart, voice to the sky
I remember you best in your home, your sweet little dog Wombat at your heel. I remember you asked me if I wanted something to drink and you cut open a fresh coconut in your kitchen. To this day, I haven't tasted a sweeter drink than that afternoon we spent talking about poetry while the ocean sang behind us.
Maybe it is no coincidence heaven welcomed you after the Solstice.
Sol - sun - sistere - to stand still.
The first time I met you, you performed a poem about your grandfather. It was a creative and political awakening that I had yet to understand; that love is a generative force, that love is a force that inspires you to change the world. Time stood still as you recited your poem, your voice echoing through, to what felt like, every olive tree, every stolen soil, every smile between grandparents and their grandchildren. I knew then that I wanted to be a poet, just like you.
When I couldn't afford to go to your workshop, you let me help you out and set-up so I could attend. When I couldn't find a stable job, you let me work as your assistant to make a little extra cash. When everyone just thought I was just this kid who liked slam poetry, you invited me to share the stage with you. When I was this sad and insecure kid from Western Sydney, you told me to keep writing - to keep performing. When I didn't have a friend who understood me, you introduced me to Eunice. I am so grateful we're still friends and that we shared the experience of being taught by you, that you still live through our poetry too, that we're both so queer (we love to joke that it was a friends-to-lovers arc you knew would eventuate at some point and I know you're having the last laugh on this).
I will always remember the great responsibility you took in being my mentor and friend. So much so that people I've mentored know your name. I know the great honour it is to cultivate art and creativity, to know that it can save people by inspiring them to live another day.
So on this day, 5 years later, I am ready to grieve you. I am ready to remember you without denial, without this wall I've held onto whenever someone spoke your name. I love you and carry you with me, always. I continue your work in community, in my poetry, in generations to come.