I carry a dead relationship around everywhere with me.
It’s my hobby.
How lucky to have a job that’s also my hobby,
To do it all the time
I am this thing’s twin.
One of us is dead
And we don’t know which, we are so close.
-– Katherine Pierpoint, “This Dead Relationship”
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?
Before you went for your operation I was coming home from the hospital and I imagined you would die.
I suddenly felt better. I had it all planned out. I was going to be the most perfect motherfucking widow on the planet.
No more sex. No more love. Just me remembering you forever. Your disciple. Your Mary Magdalene.
But you had to go and spoil it all by living.
You took my big role away. I had to carry on being me and we know where that led.
I am glad you are not dead.
But you will never read this and if I finish it I will never show it to you. And you won’t be proud of me, and we won’t be able to laugh about how weird it all is, how it turned out.
How we couldn’t forget Foucault if we tried.
Remember how terrified you always were, of talking to those great queer theory type men? How if you had to email a professor you’d read it down the phone to me and I’d tell you it was ok, or just make it short? You are not in a Henry James novel now. And how you never understood how I could just phone people up or write to strangers out of the blue?
And here I still am, like I am holding your hand, not being scared of those men in their studies with their bookshelves full of Foucault and Whitman and Isherwood. Because I don’t have as much respect for them as you did.
But it’s getting silly now. You aren’t dead but ‘we’ are. You don’t need me to hold your hand any more. You never liked it when I actually did hold your actual hand anyway, as if that was too much. Too what? Too heterosexual? Too girly? Too normal? It felt like you were ashamed to be seen out with me, in public, holding my hand.
My shameful secret is that sometimes I wanted to be normal. And I knew I never could with you. That made me hate you sometimes. There. I said it now. As if it needed saying.
If this is a project to dig up the dead I don’t want to do it.
How am I going to know until it is too late, till the corpse is unearthed and I am surrounded by bones?
This time it is me that needs you to tell me I am doing the right thing.
Where are you?