I got home. I showered. I masturbated. Screaming out: fuck me, fuck me, fuck me.
I called the number you gave me. The receptionist put me through but the bells just rang hollow and I imagined an empty room – and the town you were out painting.
I wrote you a letter. Can you remember what it said?
My beautiful boy. I love you in a way that has completely undone me. I am no longer the older woman in seat 313 or the pre-dawn lover of mission brown motels. I have been broken down and someone new is being constructed in my place. I don’t know who she is just yet – but she wants to be with you.
I stood beside the post box under the red midnight glow of the street lamp and listened to the shuffling cloud of moths as they swirled in the light. The street was quiet, save for them and my breathing.
The chute opened with a loud, metallic yawn. The letter dropped.
And then I caught sight of myself. Forty three and sending my very first love letter. However sad and unbecoming my party performance had been it struck me that there was something even more telling about this. How had I lived so long and never known what it meant to be alive?
To live without the risk of death is to be dead already – and I realised that that was what I had been doing since the red faced and rude stranger on the migrant ship had seen me bleeding and pointed out that I was an animal. Cut from flesh, not carved from ideas. Mortal, not eternal.
I never knew gratitude – or humility – or even freedom – until hunger cut me down to size.
Or was it starvation?
Love letter # 220
Where did all the time go? I blinked and a year went by. I turned around for a moment and you were gone. Gone like summer. I tried to live on echoes – on the faded scratches you left in your wake – but I came up dry. Gasping.
For now the glory is memory – that faulty vault of you and I. The slow sinking ship of days is taking on the weight of its own demise – replacing the heady details of your nearness with waterlogged statues.
Yet even in the vast and glimmering sea, little signs of you. Things I still cling to – but know I must yield. There is no forever for you and I – just this: the magnificent and relentless tumble of nights into days – seasons into years – years into oblivion.
Your tender beauty is the ghost of everything. Your lost laughter is the song that plays over and over. How glad I am to know such gorgeous spectres. If I am to be haunted, please let it be by you.
For time is the eraser of all traces – save for my love. Save for my love.
Love letter # 375
‘Breakfast’ was at the airport. Different flights. You were the first to leave. I yearned in the echoes – until I too was flown away.
The notion of you and I so brutally compacted. Like a raid. A storming of the citadel. The borrowing of small hours from much longer nights. In my numbered seat I stared into the black night and vowed never again to make such one sided bargains with time.
Was it better to have seen you? Felt you. Heard you sigh.
If anything the weight of the miles increased. I was never sure why you liked me – but I knew it wasn’t enough to make you stay.
Perhaps you wondered why I never gave chase. Because you didn’t want me to. And I was just smart enough to understand what absolute folly it would have been. A lover must be wooed – not hounded.
When I crawled into my cold bed later that night, having endured the usual interrogation and convinced myself a hundred times to end it, I clutched my arms about me and pretended they were yours. I tried to feel you inside me but even that was gone.
I fell asleep to the sound of the radio. And in my dreams at last I let you go.
Love letter # 262
I count my blessings – my liberty, my lightness – all here because you turned away – and I looked inward. And there I found the true source of love – radiating outwards. The ecstasy of love is in its outflow. Its channelling. Its being. I am love because you turned aside.
Love letter # 249
Today I saw something amazing. Something I never thought I’d see again. Something in you. The smoke in your eyes. The yearning. Setting off a trigger in me.
Love letter # 210
Without knowingly planning it I found myself walking those streets again – our streets – as if drawn by a dislodged memory. I followed the beaten sidewalk to your apartment. Past the church, under the bridge, across the park. Yes – that park. I imagined you standing at your gate – like you used to. Hungry eyes. Lips parted. How corny we were.
I stood across the street – gazed at the window I once looked from – tried to recall the sound of your laughter. Or the way you looked when the lights went out. Things that stain the years the tincture of you.
As I walked away – leaving that place of ghostly dancing – I realised that I no longer needed homages. The particulars have faded to a beautiful haze – and you are now more like an angel, or an evocation. You are a source of light in my life. I may not wish upon your star – but I feel its warmth.
If you – like me – have extracted such treasures from our madness – then I am honoured beyond words.
As I was when you opened your door to me.