Before the 1914 war passports didn’t exist. You had to have one for Russia or Turkey, otherwise you went where you liked provided you had the money. He told me he was in London on a diplomatic passport. His stay was limited. He was going to Holland to lecture, or so I understood. He told me he was half French, half Dutch, and lived in Paris. ‘All this passport business is only because it’s wartime,’ I said. ‘They’ll stop it as soon as the war’s over.’ He smiled a little and said, ‘Perhaps, perhaps.’
I told him I sometimes felt like smacking Quinn for mocking me anytime I recited poetry.
Nah, it ain’t like that, Doonie said. He just associates poems with some teacher telling him he’s a dumbass.
Hold up, did you just hear, did you just say, did you just see, did you just do that? Then the voice in your head silently tells you take your foot off your throat because just getting along shouldn’t be an ambition.
Evelina’s brother was like her but with red hair. He took me for long walks, showed me Castries, and one day asked if I would like to see a fight between a tarantula and a scorpion. ‘We put them in a bottle and watch,’ he said.
I asked who won.
‘Neither wins. The spider bites, the scorpion stings, and they both die.’
The Romans put skulls into their love poems.
Skeletons and dry bones along with love.
As if violet was only beautiful against
something black. We also talked of death,
I perhaps more than you. It made me happy,
to think of the newly dead body being lowered
into the coffin of the other. You found
this idea impressive but terrible.
I longed for your agreement and approval.
Wanted you to understand the hugeness of love.
You whispered that our bones would be mixed
together, but probably it was your way
to get me to stop crying and go to sleep.
Which I did, contentedly. I wanted something
to be done, some enactment to prove this secret,
this illicit love. Something too large.
I wanted it made of actual things. Dirt
and corpses even. As real as the table you
said your love was that I could sit down to
and eat from if I wanted something permanent.
I wanted absoluteness to be made of my heart.
I seldom saw the only one I really liked, Willie. He was now at school and taken up with the companionship of other boys. Gone were the days when we were all little, when we used to hop about together in a huge stone bath. Willie and his sisters, me and my brothers. We used to splash each other and shriek. Now I was alone except for books.