This cycle of poems is dedicated to my son Patrick Francis Hanrahan 1979-2002. Today would be his birthday. I wrote them at different stages of his life, the third shortly after his death from complications of mono. It was inspired by the last photo taken of him on his 23rd birthday.

I. Boy

          Golden-haired quicksilver boy
          You crash and rage
          About the house,
          All knees and elbows,
          Tumble of limbs and words
          In daring, perfect poise
          Of near-falls, cries, yells.

          My golden-haired quicksilver boy,
          Dropped into sleep
          Your delicate, pale-moonglow face,
          Curled, uncoiled body

II. Teen

          Red hair aflame
          And eyes the color of angry seas
          You are all storm and fire
          Electrical flash
          White heat burning
          Face pale as ash, ash.

III. Man

           In the last picture
          You were already transfigured,
          Pale, gold-haloed flame of spirit,
          Anger burned to ash,
          Pain dissolving in heat shimmer.
          Transfigured -
          As a single candle
          Is made holy by the dark.

          You faced the camera,
          As your fate,
          Comfortable at last in your bones
          And easy in your heart,
          Head cocked,
          As if, like Red Hanrahan,*
          You heard a faint music calling.
          Was it that distant 2Step Garage beat**
          You sent spinning,
          Spinning from your fingers
          Into eternity?

          When you were snatched
          Out of this world
          It was as quick
          As my finger's click
          That flashed your white shirt
          Into a shining shroud.

* Refers to Stories of Red Hanrahan by W. B. Yeats.
**The genre of music Patrick spun from vinyl records as a DJ.

8 thoughts on “Triptych

  1. The poems are beautiful. I especially loved the one titled “Boy”.. I can’t imagine the pain of such a loss. I’m so sorry.


  2. Dear Rita,
    I, too, lost my son. Jonathan died 10 days past his 20th birthday, in 1991. I too, write about him.
    My heart goes out to you.
    Margarete D Levy


  3. You have captured the beauty, strength, exuberance and passion of Patrick as he grew from child to man. (With a touch of his impishness). My thoughts are especially with you-and all those who loved him.


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