Liam Rector

“In a sports car I have worshipped this summer
the songs I’ve recorded on tape
driving and listening incessantly,

thinking this may be my last summer
this summer. This summer
I have conversed with death every minute

and found out I have the talent
to submit, to leave, even to flee,
and, in this, there’s nothing exceptional

about me.”

from Liam Rector’s poem “This Summer”

The poet Liam Rector, who had dealt with heart surgery and undergone treatment for colon cancer, ended his life on Aug. 15, 2007.

I will freely admit that I was never that much of an admirer of Liam Rector’s poetry, but I was surprised to come across an article about his suicide in Slate Magazine last summer, and this poem, one of his last, stuck with me. It is beautiful in its starkness, and I am jealous of that because that is a quality that I have been trying to attain and have only truly achieved perhaps three times, if I am to be honest, and then it was only as a result of great emotional pain. Is that the necessary element?