A December Reverie


I used to think,
How strange, to look into your face
And see love there...
It was your eyes that spoke to me, first,
So green, so knowing, caring.
When was it?
A year ago? No, two!
Time flies, when you're having fun...
When you're falling in love.
There I was,
Flat out on the road, watching them
Trying to rig an IV,
Wondering if I was going to become
A road toll statistic --
December, 1983.
Think of it!
Angola, the Congo, Germany --
Terrorists couldn't kill me,
But here's an old man in a
Silly little economy car...
'Here lies William Andrew Phillip Bodie,
Swiped off his bike near the
Blackfriars Tube Station
By a pensioner in a British Leyland...
Seems funny now.
Look back and smile, you say.
But there you were,
With those green eyes,
And I saw the glitter there.
Tears, Ray? For me?
I never knew you cared!
Well, a man's got a heart, hasn't he?
Well, some of us have...
Mine ached for you,
Although I held my silence,
Standing beside you while the
Bloody machines, like clocks,
Ticked your life away...
In your heart, or near it --
Nearer than this, as I lie,
My head on your shoulder,
Listening to the same heart,
Beating strongly now...
Why did I say nothing, then?
If you'd died,
You'd have taken me with you...
You know me.
Tough, rough, bluff exterior,
Pumping iron, pounding the bag,
Then taking in the kitten,
That little white stray;
Sentimental, you said, smiling.
You weren't there the night
He got run over.
Would you have laughed?
Rough, tough Bodie,
Picking up that scrap of white fur
And weeping more for the
Murdered innocence of it
Than I could ever weep for people...
No, you would have understood.
I know you,
You have two faces too:
The one you show the world,
And your own, the one you hide --
The one you show to me.
You've never said a lot
In all this time;
You tell me more
With a look, a gesture;
Sometimes your kiss says things
I'd be afraid to hear spoken.
Sometimes it frightens me to see you...
Hurt, tired, cold.
I want to pick you up, like the kitten --
And I'm wrong:
You're a man.
I never forget that, no matter
How much I've come to
Love you, want you, Need you.
And yet,
Sometimes I look at you
And wonder, yet again:
How did I call myself your friend
For all those years,
And never see you as you are?
Beautiful; gentle; vulnerable;
Hiding your compassion
Behind the toughness,
Hiding your feelings
Lest they betray you,
Let others see who you are,
What you are...
Are we afraid of who we are?
Most men go through life
Afraid to cry --
I did, for years,
And then you taught me,
And it hurt. God, how it hurt!
It's like I told you, once:
If you'd died,
You'd have taken me with you
Yet, still I held onto that
Dogged silence. Stupidity!
Waste of time, life. Love.
You know,
That old man who swiped me
Off my bike --
He did us both a favour...
Here we are, it feels so good, so right,
With your long legs curled with mine,
Not so wanton, not so chaste,
Familiar, affectionate,
And when you look at me
I see in those green eyes of yours
The same depthless caring
That I saw back there
When you knelt in the road,
My blood slick and warm on your hands,
And begged me to live
Without saying a word...
How often you have murmured it since then?
I love you, Bodie.
You said it once, I think.
I don't need the words, I suppose;
I can do without the language
So long as there's still the love.
It's odd -- or maybe not:
My women, I've loved and left,
All my life, you know that!
And then there's you...
And you're not even a girl!
You're more than that, not less.
No, I don't love you
Because you're a man,
But because you're you.
God knows, I don't fancy Murphy,
And he's a good looking lad!
It's just you, just me, just us,
We're what make it happen,
And it's magic.
Two years, Ray --
Two years, to the day:
It's Christmas Eve again.
I've a scar to show for it,
And a new bike,
And an old, enduring ache
Just under the heart,
The ache you put there,
The pleasure-pain I don't ever
Want to lose.
You look up at me now, and smile,
Your head pillowed on green brocade,
Your couch; the firelight
Touching your skin with gold,
Making your hair red,
While the old song plays on the hi-fi again,
Putting words to what I feel.
Two years? We've hardly begun, have we?
And I should thank the singer
For his words
If he'll lend them to me, this once:
Come, let me love you,
Come, love me again.

-- THE END --

Originally published in In the Public Interest, Sunshine Press, 1985

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