Saturday, January 5, 2008

Andy Olmsted

All day yesterday and not a post. Today I've been away from the computer and will be again in minutes, but I want to post a link.

A long-time blogger was killed in Iraq this week. Home was apparently here, in the same town where I live. I would have liked to meet him someday. Now that will never happen. But Andy Olmsted left a post with a friend for just such an event. And sad as it is, the post is worth reading. Few of the good men and women who have given their lives in war have taken advantage of such an opportunity to leave behind words to speak for them in their absence.

It's worth taking the time to read. A number of the people who read this blog on a daily basis will have read it already. Some of them have even posted links of their own to Andy's final words.

For my own part, I'll just contribute the following poem, which comes from Brian Turner's, Here, Bullet, probably the most moving book of poems I've ever read. I taught it in my college English classes to students all of whom would join Brian's and Andy's and my profession. The penultimate section of Andy's post, just before he begins to say farewell to his wife, made me remember this poem by Turner. Unlike Andy, I have had the good fortune to meet Brian, and share a long conversation over coffee. I'll have more to say on that later. For now, here is Brian Turner's "Sadiq":

It is a condition of wisdom in the archer to be patient because when the arrow leaves the bow, it returns no more. --Sa'di

It should make you shake and sweat,
nightmare you, strand you in a desert
of irrevocable desolation, the consequences
seared into the vein, no matter what adrenaline
feeds the muscle its courage, no matter
what god shines down on you, no matter
what crackling pain and anger
you carry in your fists, my friend
it should break your heart to kill.
I think Andy would have liked that poem. I think Andy would have like Brian. I think they would have liked each other.

Godspeed, Andy. Godspeed.