Time being what it is for Michael Macklin
by Erika Butler
“I won’t be able to come this weekend, but I’ll see you next time,” you wrote. “It’s for a good cause, though. We’ll miss you — See you next time,” I wrote back. You believed it when you said it.
I believed it when I read it.
And I do miss you. When you aren’t around making the worst coffee I ever tasted, teasing me for my tea; growling your greeting with a kind of animal happiness; pulling the bottle of Tullamore Dew out of your slouchy overfilled travel bag, along with the book you know I need to read at the moment and the chapbook Tom should see, then going out to rummage through your truck for the rock you wanted me to have; chopping vegetables in the kitchen with the Hotel Caterers and then settling in on a stool with a wee sip and your guitar while others stirred pots.
At your memorial service as I sat in a room filled with hundreds of people — more in another room listening, after hundreds had already gathered a day before, all of us still surprised at your
exit — I unexpectedly heard your voice: “So this is what it took to get you here?”
At least you went out classy, doing what you loved, living that large bear life of yours, music and words and young folks around, with no regrets except maybe having to leave that old yellow dog behind. Regrets in this case are for the living.
We were supposed to visit your new writing shack and dammit you were going to finish off the studio on the hill. What about that?
We were supposed to have years to get frustrated with each other, friction rising, then talked away in a sidebar sotto voce — “We’re both being a bit too Irish” I’d say to you — and you’d smile; years to make eye contact over the struggle for the elusive phrase for some mystical knowing.
One of the last times I saw you I read your astrological chart: “There’s some big change coming that I can’t quite explain, big though, big change.” I remember you looking into the near distance for a moment, and then winking at me. “Ya think?”