Love letter # 185

I have tried not to see your beauty. Not to have it blazing in my eye. Not to see your lovely mouth – nor to smell your honey skin. Not to think of how your hand would feel – nor fix upon your hips. Not to watch you dance like that. Not to share your drink. Not to have these thoughts I have. Not to cry out loud. But hunger is the stronger now – and you are what I wish.

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Love letter # 86

I climbed the misty hill to feel your rain about my shoulders. You settled gently on my skin.

I walked along the forest floor to hear the sound of your life around me. It filled me up with song.

I was tempted by the fruit you grew. When I bit your sugars flowed.

I swam in the river running through you. I am cleaner now.

I slept under the stars you burn. And you woke me just now with your light.

Love letter # 116

We live in terrified times so I find this hard to say. When I noticed you – wet and salty on the beach – water tracing lines over your incredible form – glistening on the synthetic sheen of your bathers – I was too afraid to look. I felt that if my gaze should linger not only would you know – and judge – but that I would find myself reaching out – hand seeking the sheer electric of you.

There is nothing complex about this – just hunger. A raw recognition. My civilised demeanour – my politics and perspective – they have melted at your feet. The smell of you – your proximity. This is want I want. You may have a chemical power over me, but honeypie, let me tell you … I am more than willing to submit.

A Sea Beyond Regret

MOVING back to the sea was always going to pit me against the ghosts and their children. Although this once small, unpaved outer suburb has in-filled and the predominantly immigrant accents have taken on a more antipodean twang, the past now walks around in track pants and board shorts.

Case in point – this morning – out early to beat the anticipated heat – I emerged from the crisp turquoise water to find it topless on the sand. The careless slouch of a boy – skin brown, eyes darting over me. “Ain’t you Gracie Saunders?” he said.

“I was,” I told him. “They call me Liberty now.”

“You take the yoga classes, right?”

“First one’s at eleven.”

“Thought so. My mum goes. She remembers you.”

I had to look away – avoid the inherent judgement. I noticed the boy’s canoe – bright fibreglass colours against wet grey sand. It explained his well-developed biceps.

“I’m Josh,” he smiled – all teeth and freshness. His hand – big and loose – reached out. I shook it with a nod.

“Mum reckons you’ve changed.”

I was immediately struck by the strangeness of it. “Everyone changes, don’t they? If they’re alive.”

He laughed – his eyes big with childlike kindness and adult need. “She said you used to be real nice.”

Hearing it so bluntly filled with me a sense of lightness – of achievement. The dry old cladding was flaking off – new skin showing through. I ran my hands through wet hair – gave young Josh a good look. “Well, I’m horrible now.”

Another big, reflexive smile. A nervous shuffle – toes digging into sand. “Nah – I just reckon they’re jealous.”

It was my turn to laugh – a little flushed. Who was this pretty boy with the downy frame and probing eyes?

“Why thank you, Josh but – why? Why are you telling me this?”

Shrugging bare, already freckled shoulders he squinted. “I dunno – just thought I’d say.”

“Well I know what it’s to feel like jealous,” I confessed. “And it’s not fun.”

I walked past him – feeling the pull of his eyes. My footsteps squeaked a litte too loudly in the sand as I made my way towards the chipped and bleached stairs up to the road – shaking my head.

“Hey,” his voice called out – suddenly more purposeful.

Stopping and spinning I watched him jog up – athletic and awkward at once. My curiosity was firing. He stopped a metre or so away – hand up to shield his eyes from a low slung sun.

“They’re saying shit about you. They reckon you like young blokes.”

 

Sitting here – thinking about the class I am about to teach – I rehearse nasty come-backs I know I won’t use. Maybe Josh was feeling lucky – chancing his arm. Perhaps it was Indy that let it slip. No matter. There’s some truth in it anyway. You gave me a taste for it – so hot and unspoiled. Such a wonderful fuck. I understand that I am meant to feel put down. Dirty. Compromised. My return to this place – a defeat – a kind of backdown. And yes – I have been humbled – but not in the way they imagine.

Nor am I shamed or regretful.

Rather I am thankful – to have met you – for my love to have been so costly. Now that I am here on the ground – under the old tin roof of my mother – sweltering in the appraisal of my contemporaries – I am learning to be worthy of my both my names. Grace and Liberty. They seem like beautiful twins to me. I can only aspire to be like them.

 

“And how does that make you feel, Josh? Lucky?”

Impulsively – perhaps recklessly – I reached out and touched his firm, sandy chest. Felt his heart – it’s deep and aching beat. Poor boy – he was terrified. Hormones and small town spite had got the better of him.

I withdrew my hand – wiped it provacatively on my still wet bathers.

“I’m sorry,” he bumbled – a naughty kid caught out.

“Don’t be,” I told him firmly. ”Cos I’m not.”

Leaving him there on the sand with his toy coloured canoe and bewildered eyes I had a rare sense of victory. Not swagger. Not revenge. Just quiet knowing. I realised that for the first time in my life I genuinely did not care. What had once been a pose – a speech – was now a kind of breathing.

When I stand in front of those women in a couple of hours I will thank you. I will plead gladly guilty to their sins. Own their weakness with pleasure. And it will all be reduced to vanity – because I will have known the light.

The beautiful light you showed me.

The Well Of Ecstasy & Despair

THE statistics are clinical. They are the skeletal numbers of love. The seventeen times I saw you. The thirty seven phone calls, twelve postcards. Our fortnight in New York. Etcetera. I consult them when it gets too much.

I have them listed on a sheet of paper I keep hidden. When I am close to crazy – like just now – I resort to their antiseptic truth. One day, I hope, I will not need them. I will cease to count. 411 days since.

Yes. I know I’m obsessed. The traces are everywhere. Not least here. My slightly obsessional book about you.

But I have come to prefer addiction as my metaphor of choice – because everything about this feeds something in me. I used to call them needs – but need is a veil for want. You taught me that.

And so I have to confess – I still want you. Or rather, I still want to feel like this. These flames entrance me still. I am like the alcoholic – not simply in love with the drink but with the idea of being a drunk. I have not yet extracted all the jewels from the burning bedroom. And until I do …

The stats make clear the price of fire. They do not offer a solution.

And tonight those narcotic flames flicker sweet and smoky. I saw them earlier – being lit. Kids on the sand. Students on holiday. The girls not wearing enough, the boys with clear designs. Their party about to start. It sounded like sex and boundless optimism. Like no harm could possibly come.

Maybe they were not aware of it – but I was. They are closer to your age. This is their time.

As I walked past them – Mum burbling away on my arm – I tried to remember my time. There were no beach parties then. Not for me. I feared the loosening effects of booze and bonfires. Had I not won my scholarship and escaped the migrant suburbs, I may never have discovered sex – except in the dutiful rote of the marriage bed. Much like my mother had.

There was the other thought too. Inevitable. Less academic. The first of the stats. Me – forty five. You – not yet twenty-five. By the time you were born I had already fled the beach for a city of men and ideas. For a new name. I had taken the pill – been born again.

You are still young and firm and lovely and I have no further need of the pill. Have not bled for ages. Mum hasn’t asked me about that either.

And all the while – nibbling at my attention – the kids and their party. Fire getting brighter as the sun inched down. Hints of wood smoke. Music wafting. The squeals of girls. The deep bravado of unbreakable boys. It was like the song of my loss. So incredibly beautiful.

Back here at the house – Mum packed off – grasping for an anchor – I stood outside straining to hear it. As if doing so would somehow dissolve the feeling that something incredibly important had passed me by. It was not that I had missed it – rather I had had my turn.

Were you my last taste of it? Or were you my first?

I threw my head back – breathing in stars – and let the gossamer music lead me to the well – the one I where I knelt whenever you were inside me. The well of ecstasy and despair. The one where everything is everything.

I hold onto to my sorrow because it is the only thing I know that is as beautiful as you.

There is a happiness fetish in our culture. I see it now for what it is. It is a failure to acknowledge the eternal. It is the fear of knowing what we all know. That we are here – and then we are not.

Because I have loved you in such a ridiculous fashion I have come to accept this. More than accept. Embrace. As I type this I am suddenly certain that this is why I came to live here. To see the face of forever. To hear the sound of the great ocean approaching.

Who would have guessed that such tiny numbers could add up to this?

Short Film – The Hurting

Rather than a text letter, this is a video version. Sort of. Actually, it’s a rock video I directed with an obvious love theme. The band is Evoletah, the song is ‘The Hurting’ and the actor is Lucas Pittaway. Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TewpC33Wvs&feature=youtu.be