But your great sadness will join the stars,
a new star to wound and outshine the skies.
Frederico García Lorca, Elegy
Look at this, at this, my heart. Wherever and however you are now just look – such a terrible tangle of thorns. The skin has been split into shivering parts: hips wrapped in rosebuds and ribs in barbed wire, the blood thins again, the white wrists fold like paper. The forlorn shores, salient grey, I walked hand in hand with my father. Feet bare and coated with nascent brine, the snarling waves and salt-bitten wind-shrieks. My mind is still an open grave. But this is not about me. It was never about me. On that, there is little left to write.
Yearnings tighten like a noose, a flood of flesh, a scalding choice. Another thread wrenched from the fabric. No time to think, not even to mourn– I catch a glimpse of you at the station. Younger, like I remember. My hands are trowels, for what good it’s done, shoveling back the rock and bone. I claw at the earth, break my knuckles on its surface. I want to get back, back, back to you.
What’s left to know when the body turns cold? We immerse once more in the madness that comes, like a bloodlust, with the winter. I stand by what I said–oh, yes. I do not believe death is mere tragedy. I do not believe that life ends before its time.
But your absence feels more lucid, more real, than the blood that dries between teeth or thighs, the knotted nightmare of scars that sing, the fibers of flesh that ink could not purge. Why am I standing, and not you? Those soul-numbing numbers that turn and burn, devouring raw life like locusts. How many have I loved and seen buried? How many more are to come?
In some ways, it hardly matters. The grief is expressionless, solipsistic, consuming. My vision silenced, I listen: the world crashes towards verse.
Oh yes, I knew. I’ve always known.
I knew and I didn’t.
I didn’t, but I knew.
My challenge and my subject has often been myself. But lately my mind has been devoured by the fact, by the question of loathing: a narcissistic curiosity for acclimatization, a specific relation to the ones who close off.
I withdrew and watched, bit my tongue until it bled. But each new misery rises like a scream. How could it come to this? How could the body break so fast, like a vow? How could we lose you, a wrist over glass–is your life even yours to take? Did you know peace at last, or simply find that there was nowhere left to go?
Once I dug a grave and prayed that in its loss my body would decay and asphodel grow in rivers from the skin. I remember the macabre seduction of it all. But rainwater carved strange patterns in the soil. The paths of sensation were elusive but inexorable. I had to live. I had to live. I owed someone something: not life, but an absence of suffering. I kept on, and on, and on.
But still, I understand. I do. Because sometimes I wish to be down there, beside you: sleeping as soft as the new-fallen snow.
That is not what it feels like, but it comes so much closer to what I really mean. Your death was a dream on the underside of my soul. The train will stop at no station at all. Nothing is real now but us.
You, my brother, have done your part. You two are two, and one, at once. Recoiling in your Janus-jaw the sacred scripture of a twin silence resounds. My words are formless, grief-infused. But by my own principle, how am I to mourn? You lived, and lived well, for so long. You are where nothing can hurt you much longer.
Your resistance was so realized, unearthly, adored. How can I not find some solace in that? Yes, I miss you. I miss all of you, who are lost now in this way. I want to believe in some other time, some holy spectacle, some place left to find you. But in truth, my hopes are scarcely sound. This is the last life we all had to live. I do not think that we will meet again.
But we live in one another still: in brightly burning echoes of the future’s living forms. Rest now: do not burn any longer. We carry this on, this purpose informed by the triumph of life, by your efforts to remain attached, as it were, to the world that failed you time and again.
Sleep well beneath the silent stars. In my own time, I will join you there. We all will. We must.
You are every sleepless hour: you are the desolate craft. But the trajectory is a singular, incendiary thrust. We move towards closures of triumph and tragedy. We yearn towards a world where our gods are the right ones.
When they told me you were gone, I could not get a foot through the door. And then I saw them, those patterns of thought: the sixes and skulls and the liturgy of nonbeing. James, those walls were breathing.
And if it happens that you cannotgo on or turn backand you find yourselfwhere you will be at the end,tell yourselfin that final flowing of cold through your limbsthat you love what you are.