Of course you were always there; I still see those dark eyes like warm pools of love, such intimacy poisoning nearby attention. And whilst jealousy and estrangement have enmeshed silence around us ever since — family is everything, it’s all we have to fall back on, to stand up to those moving to destroy us. So mother, I honour you, archetype in my mind, fulcrum of my heart: And may siblings forgive each other.
It was at the Turner Exhibition. Hutchings was a quiet lad, for a copper; he had a passion which no one suspected — and it got him killed. I took the call and we all piled ’round. There he was, wrapped up in bubble wrap, sequestered in the store room next to ‘Snow Storm’; not one of my favourites. Someone had taken a scalpel to him, a right mess he was, poor lad. When we got to his flat there were art books all over, though not a morsel in the fridge. Evidently Hutchings — I shall call him George — used to feed on art.
He said his name was Jophar Vorin, that he was looking for his long lost brother. I showed him a map, though it only seemed to confuse him more. “Where was Sakria and Euplar?” he asked. The funny thing was… we truly believed him.
Finally the Berlin authorities took Jophar; we never heard of him again — except in our endless musings ever since. I have to say it, I think the most enlightening speculation was written by you, my dear friend: “We look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of Time.”
Lychgates, also sometimes called resurrection gates, are a curious English (though not exclusively) phenomenon.
The name derives from the Old English word lych, or lich, meaning body, referring to entrance to the churchyard though which the body of the deceased was carried. This was seen as the beginning of the path towards resurrection by being buried in holy ground.
In medieval times, signs and symbols carried a lot of weight as most of the population were illiterate. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to think that signs and symbols don’t carry as much weight today. We just have to read and understand them.
Inspiration is a leech on the
creature of conflict. How much
better it would be if our lives were
merely plain and ordinary, transcending
this light and shade, our existence
reliant only on plucking fruit
from a tree, cupping clean
water from a stream; and that
all my words and lines,
such as they are,
derived solely from love and light.
But we’ve seen to it, you
and me, have decided
to find out and exaggerate
every little nuance we have, to look across
at each other from these
dubious divides with poison eyes, our fixed
minds like two scorpions in a bottle.
And what we can’t steal or bribe or starve
from each other, we will fight for
to the end, till every last
sap of strength and all our blood is gone –
for that sweet taste of victory.
We’ve all spoken these platitudes,
though only seldom act
or relent. Even in our shadowy beginnings
the weary Gilgamesh knew; primeval
battles between dark
and light still raging on inside.
His remorse and grief leap out
at us from figures in dried clay like
they were made today, a reflection
of ourselves, our tears,
the lessons never learned. So,
if you must – go ahead.
Do your worst! Though please
make it your best
and I will write, endlessly
At what point do you realise you’re
not alive? I’ve watched
pedestrian slow to
moribund, the colour
drain away like a leaching wound. Life
without verve is no life at all
and my verve shot away years ago. He left
on this tangental course, a maverick
fired like some devil who may care. Oh,
he’s fine by the way and living it up
in a lush valley somewhere, high
on peyote and painting the tall
arid peaks where
the air is clear and the milky way
whispers sweet nothings
in his ear, the shining girl who
once curved my night sky
I’ve been baffled by this talk of
perpendicular, amused by the students
in lurid hats and long scarves. Some are arm-
in-arm, quite oblivious to me, their
languid strides taunting
It’s a peculiar English thing, this style
(I know it hurts you to say) but I pretend
not to care, because my
recall of art history class is minimal
at best, a choice
that perhaps I regret now in these
sitting hunched in this cafe on
the square, bleeding its pasts. Maybe I’m jealous of
these boys, their short-skirted girls
with dark tights going on forever. And that bell,
it has a continental ring; I see
other occupants here, the shadows
of angular men in martial grey, mingling
with the smiles and chat of stylish women. But
now I have to watch you eat, your
gannet-eyes sucking coffee, washing
down the sachertorte you wolf. The mere
thought of those cobbles out there just beyond
this warping glass— you know
they are as hard as the freeze
which grips this place, the tissue of
your frozen heart