‘Oh, a sickness that can make you so ill,
Yet doesn’t have the decency to kill you.
A mad free-fall that never hits the ground,
Never knows even the relief of sudden shock;
Just endless medium-rare shock, half-firm, half-bloody all the time.
A long, slow learning curve.’
‘It is easy to find one dead thing and replace it with another; one grief for another. But it is much harder to tell which is which.
Is it you, or me, or Foucault that is dead?
Or maybe it is all three.
Writing this won’t bring any of us back to life.
But what is the point of writing through grief? Through death?’
I used to wake up talking to you. It didn’t matter where I was. Your voice was always in my head, and I always knew what you would say. It went on for years afterwards. Your voice in my head. Your words in my mouth that nobody else could swallow. We were weird together, and weird apart. But at least when we were together we had eachother to talk to. I don’t think I ever once said anything you didn’t understand. I don’t think you ever said anything once I didn’t understand.
There was this man. I started to talk to him, a bit like how I would talk to you. I sometimes imagined he was you. But he wasn’t. But I could imagine him, sitting in the yard at the back of The Prince Of Wales, with you, and D______ and I________ and M_________ (and me, in the corner). I could imagine him saying the same kinds of words that you would say, drinking as much as you drank, and never missing a beat. He probably would have hated M________. I fucking hope he would. They would have been in competition I expect. I don’t think there is room for two pederast professors in one pub garden.
He helped me understand what happened. He helped me even feel some empathy for that cunt M______ Remember that day I didn’t know where you’d spent the night and I went to your house and I wanted to be angry but I saw your face, and how your body shrank into itself and how you didn’t have to say but I knew. That day hung over us forever didn’t it? I can still taste the air and see your living room and the exact position you sat in and how I didn’t hug you. I didn’t hug you! But it was too late.
So now I know why we carried on. Why we couldn’t talk about it without screaming or slamming the phone down. I know why I used to walk off in the night away from you, home to my own bed my own thoughts. I know why I hated you, hated him. Hated me.
Not that understanding helps us, me. I don’t think that man is glad he helped me understand. I think he might hate me too, a bit now. Now he knows I am part of the whole thing. The boys and the men and the loneliness.
But I don’t regret it. You and your boy blue eyes and your old-man’s mind and all your literature and all that wine and the shouting over the music and my face in the pillow and waking up talking and…
I miss you.