On hearing the news

Sweet boy,

I remember the week we met. The conversations, about God, hope, pain, despair, and poetry. Our own and our favourite poems of others that we skipped to each other like stones across a body of water. Long after others had gone to sleep, skimming the surface, circling each other.

You followed me home. We kept talking. Late night calls, long emails.

I followed you south, but not to your home. A little way off, a hut in the valley where black fantails flittered around me a stream trickled down through the bush. You followed me there. The frost was still crunchy on the grass, but the beach was warm in the sun.

IMG_0001

***

Sometimes I felt trapped by the land. I was always waiting, in every silent pause, for the sea to roll back towards the horizon, the purple rim of the ocean lifting and rising against the clouds.

Depression always came to me as a dark, clawing wave, tearing everything apart. Destroying every sign of life.

I sat on the south coast. The swell was huge that day, every wave seemed to tower higher than those before, and with every peak my breath froze inside my chest. I waited. I waited for the wave swallow everything.

You said you didn’t want this life. Your words left me numb and shaking. My mind filled with all the cliches that pissed me off so much when they fell from other people’s lips. “It will get better” I heard myself saying. “I promise…” What the hell did I know?

***

“I think I’m falling…

We’re all talk…

take my hand

please
don’t let go…”

***

The waves subside. I am grateful for the blue sky. The sun turns tear soaked eyelashes into rainbows.

Now I am waiting again. Waiting for the phone to ring, for someone to tell me how I can help… for someone to tell me that you’ve gone through with it. Life goes on outside but I am waiting.

I’ve found a satellite image of Japan at night. A dusting of gold leaf. The edges glow. It’s beautiful. And here, Wellington is a tiny glowing speak. All I can think of is a thousand dark kilometers of ocean spreading between.

I feel as though I’m paused on the edge of something. A landscape of possibility waits to take shape from the darkness.

“I think that I’m falling…

maybe love
is like a wave

don’t let go.”

***

2004 – My words to you.

Who first stumbled into that

uncertain territory?

Did the air change

imperceptibly as you pulled

me to you

on the empty beach?

At first the collisions could be

explained away: the greetings

and departures of friends,

platonic

embraces. Later, in the car,

no one seemed to

notice as I crossed the space

between us

the curve

of your shoulder

moulded to fit

my palm.

*

In the afternoon you said

“love,”

and the sun

burned the word

into my skin.

*

The taste of you clings to me

like a skin of memory.

I find myself touching

the echoes of words

tracing the outlines that linger

pale ghosts in the air.

*

I grow restless as the moon swells

more huge with every night

light pours through the window

saturates my dreams.

*

“I don’t want you to fall

in love with me”

you say and I

can’t think of an answer.

*

This moon will soon

rise in your northern sky.

My fingers

follow the trail

of light

across my pillow

my body has not yet

accepted your

absence.

***

Your words to me.

In a six tatami mat
room tonight

I unwrap your poem
paper curled like

your back around me.
Two line stanzas

run between us
bank to bank

like a wire bridge
in wet bush.

Outside the room
the night

plays smash fluorescent
God across the sky.

***

The end of our story is lost to me. I was in a bipolar storm. It was hard to hold onto anyone. You were so far away.

I wish I knew how we ended. I didn’t keep your emails, your letters. I can’t remember our phone calls. I guess we drifted apart.

I wish we had bumped into each other. I could have said sorry for the times I was careless with you. I could have shared how far I have travelled since that time. I could have told you how happy I am now. You’d probably have laughed to hear that L and I are together. We called have talked about poetry again. I would have loved to introduce you to Windhorse.

***

It gives me great comfort to know that you were with someone who loved you and you obviously loved deeply. She has shared some videos, and you look less awkward, more relaxed, happier than I ever remember seeing you. I’m so glad to know you had found such a supportive group of friends and such a fun theatre group where you felt accepted.

I hope that you had come to want this life.

I am so sad that all that was cut short. You misjudged a gap and fell from a building. A tragic accident which means done of us will ever bump into you again. My heart goes out to your family, your friends, your partner, all those who were close to you. My grief will be a faint flicker of what they feel.

Right now though, I can’t stop crying. I wish we could pass each other again on happier paths. I wish I could say sorry.

In a time when others had hurt me, you touched my heart. You held me. You were gentle. I wish I could say thank you.

Last night we lit candles for you. It was good to be together, to share stories, to comfort each other.

Sweet, thoughtful, hilarious, kind, poetic man. May God comfort your loved ones. May God keep laughing with you. May your spirit keep laughing alongside us.

I’m so sorry to say goodbye.

P1060942

Advertisements