Love letter # 319

Solstice. Winter. The darkness in its pomp. The daylight shivering. So far from you. Wanting so much to lie upon the damp earth and be consumed. To sink into the soil, feed the naked trees. Give my life to something greater. Greater than my futile pride. More beautiful than my ridiculous vanity. Something like the love that still lives inside me.

In this frigid grey I see you so clearly – turning your head to smile back at me – your eyes so warm with tenderness. That knowing laugh of yours. The way you hinted at deeper and more wonderful things. The permission you gave. Not to do what others do. Not to want the folly of gold and glory, or the shallowness of wisdom. We never asked to be feted, nor approved of. We only ever wanted the unblinking and egalitarian oblivion of the light. To have all the shit washed off. The walls destroyed. To hear the music wherever we went.

Amidst the bare knuckled trees I linger and in the thickening dusk I call across the impossibility to listen out for the echoes of your astonishing beauty. I breathe in the viscous wet scent of fallen leaves and rain drunk dirt. I hear the song of celestial time – its overwhelming and magnificent simplicity – and I am ready to whisper my assent to the immensity. If only to be nearer. To you. To us.

So now I shall close my eyes and in a blink of blackness the wheel will have turned – and in a heartbeat the light will have come back to me. And I will not be here.

Love letter # 461

Of course this is a bit ridiculous. I mean, it’s so out of step with the modern age, isn’t it? – all this still loving you after all this time. I can almost see the look in your eyes, the shake of your head. Why don’t you just stop!?

Why don’t I just stop what? Thinking of you with tenderness? Feeling that incredible wave that first came over me when we were together? Understanding the irreversible knowing of love?

I know, I know – but what is love? Isn’t it just a kind of poetic selfishness, a euphemism for hormones and evolutionary imperatives? Maybe it’s those things as well, I wouldn’t doubt it, but here’s what it also is – for me at least. It’s that breathtaking connection; the one makes it seem, just for a moment, like you are breaking from the cell of the ego and really seeing the other and, in that, something profound about the nature of self.

So of course I still love you – how could I not? I still love all those who wandered into this channel, who opened the floodgates. The teenage siren of misty eyed memory, the undergraduate beauty I swore I wanted to die for, my ex-wife … and you, the one who blew the covers off everything.

I’m saying this to you now just in case. Because we never really ended, did we – it was just that drifting apart was easier, more sensible. The terrain never burned, it just got vacated. Left behind like something a little too difficult.

I fully get why this might appear absurd, even a bit crazy, but the kind of thing we had makes it worth the risk. Maybe I want you to unequivocally say it – the last rites and all that – but what I really wanted say was this: the light is still so dazzling and beautiful and humbling some days that I would rather risk the shuddering finality of no than the unbearable idea of if only.

Love letter # 350

We are, both of us, old enough to understand that some things can’t be fought – won’t be solved or made better with either wishing, ideology or just ‘going along’. It’s true, I could simply use you for the sex and kindness you are offering; but then, what happens when the deed is done and the generosity starts to seem one sided? And what kind of person would that make me?

Much as this moment is awkward, awful and a wrench for us, in a month – six months, a year – we will both be glad it happened this way. I realise that this is an easy and perhaps righteous thing to say but I also think that you know it’s true.

I will not apologise for not being ‘in love’ with you but I will say sorry if I inadvertently gave you hope or caused you pain. Maybe I tried too hard to be kind and, in indulging this weakness, I twisted the knife much more than it needed to be. I tried to limit what I knew had to be your suffering because, selfishly, I wanted to limit my own. I do not claim noble self-sacrifice as a motivation.

Yet neither do I wallow in the vain drama of middle class guilt. We are, none of us, perfect or above reproach, especially when feelings are high and desire clouds our judgement. I know that you came at this with the best intentions – with love, compassion, openness, good humour and a giving attitude – but if anything we are both at fault for failing to best manage the mis-match and losing our beautiful, extraordinary friendship along the way.

Love may well offer us everything we wish for but in its brightly shining eye it also blinds the mere mortals in its sway and asks us to render everything unto its power. We are but two more fools paying the price.

Love letter # 322

There are so many reasons to say no. Like the world. And bruises. Like all the busted myths we no longer believe. And the fact that it’s easier to be alone than to contemplate another wound. Cos we’re so over scars, aren’t we? I mean, who needs the drama. It’s just so fucking teenage. So vomitously Hollywood. No one in their right mind buys that rom-com, soulmate shit anymore. Least of all you and me.

So walk away, my cynical star. Turn around. Go home to your cat. To fucking Facebook. Me, I’ll just stay here. Bottle of red. A thousand songs of heartache. Bleeding like a river, despite all the clotting agents. But they’ll never break our hearts again, will they? Oh no.

For even though it melts me just to look at you sometimes, I’m far too cool and together to let it all become something as absurd as love. Not in a million years.

Which is just how you want it, right?

Letter to the random Chinese girl on the 96.

You will never know this – but by the accident of collision you breached the perimeter. Touched me. Gave me a shiver that I was not expecting. That has given me pause.

You will not remember this – but you sat next to me. Your arm against mine, our shoulders brushing, the smell of shampoo in your long black hair, the satin sheen of your stockings, the little curl at the end of your painted lashes. Almost imperceptible breaths.

I could never tell you this in person – but you squashing into the seat next to me not only made an ordinary tram ride memorable but made something else plain. The human warmth of a stranger’s forearm, an inconsequential intersection – yet still the sexiest thing that’s happened to me all year. It is this I took with me when my stop came.

You did not look up. Not even flinch. Just kept stabbing at your phone. WeChat. Instagram. Smiles for the things that meant something to you.

I can still imagine the softness of your mouth – the impossible aching quietness of a sigh. Gentle like those little breaths of yours. These, it’s true, are the chimera I dance with now. Invisible hands. Intangible motions. Whispers not of your uttering. Promises neither made nor unkept. A gorgeous Chinese girl on the 96 – sitting next to me in a pool of spring sunshine.

Whoever you are.

Love letter # 476

If we were younger we would be together by now. We would have found out. Now, we hover. Trying not to love. With no wish for bruising. Nor drama. Awareness as a form of inertia. Acknowledgement. Polite conciliation. Love within acceptable limits. Perhaps just enough to be torture.

But no – were not doing noble denial. We’re doing fear.

Neither of us wishes to break, yet both of us know we’re only half a thought away. Still, we cling to our slender edge. Because a stubborn fire is apt to burn the air between us. Fuelled by something in you and me. Something I can’t name. But am.

But what if we stumble from our great height? What if we fall?

Imagine right and wrong didn’t matter. Suppose this was all we had. To love one another. To find a way. What then?