What if the soul is no more than the success with which we envision one another? What if you make me and I make you, and we need each other to make each other? Couldn’t that be beautiful? Maybe our impermanence makes our love all the fiercer—since we are each other’s Gods or artists.

–Max Ritvo

I discovered the poet Max Ritvo this week, and my world is rocked. Max was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at fifteen, and he died last summer at the age of 25. He graduated from Yale and Columbia, and he left behind a body of work that I love out loud. I read emails he exchanged with his friend, Sarah Ruhl, about death, life, and the afterlife, and they have challenged and inspired me. Here’s a poem I wrote last year about death, and why I think it’s beautiful.

1st draft, “When I Get Blue”

When I Get Blue

Dear ones to
Handle my cold body,
Hold my hand and remember
The moments we shared
On bright, green hills,
On crowded, tattered streets.

I am one of you,
You are one of me,

I know the palace of your soul,
I’ve strolled the green grounds,
Rolled and embraced on your grass,
Tasted gratitude for your floors.

You know my blue-freckled body
As I know your beating, blue-blooded heart,
As the sun has been us,
As we are all forever journeymen,
Swelling billions witnessing swelling billions,

goodnights are nothing,
(these blue nights are ours),
here we are,

“And day to day, life’s a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. You need distance, interval. The way to see how beautiful the earth is, is to see it as the moon. The way to see how beautiful life is, is from the vantage point of death.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin


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