Thursday, September 27

Bethany Lives There

after Leonard Cohen’s ‘Robert Appears Again’

WELL, BETHANY, WE talk again and some time has passed and we are here on the sea defences that protect our hometown. I cannot remember exactly the year we met; was it two-thousand-and-ten? I remember lying in that Spanish room with the air conditioner going, thinking of you the way I think of warm chocolate brownie or chlorophyll under my nails, except I had this erection that was pink; I undid my fly to let the erection out; it sat upright there because I thought of you. Bethany, love has damaged you. Love is damaging you. Why did you try and kill yourself last November? I’ve not met a soul worth your life yet. This British seawater is a constantly shifting shade of blue, grey, brown; I’d like to know what we’re supposed to do it with it when our moods shift. Don’t blame me right now, no, blame Leonard Cohen; it was he who prodded me at one-thirty a.m. to put all this down. If the bedsheets weren’t so white, or we weren’t upgraded and the clerk on the desk – ‘Sometimes it’s cheap’ – gifted us that suite where we ordered tuna sandwiches for sustenance (they never tasted good; the bread had been left out too long; the tuna tasted better in the water with its fins going) would I ever have met you upon these sea defences? I might lie and say that, right now, the bags under your eyes do not add to your beauty. Tiredness kills. Tiredness tries to kill, tries to thwart, until it learns that it isn’t as grand as it likes to think it is. My hand upon your knee. There is a bravery we can put in a vase upon the mantle that is the bravery I summoned to kiss you for the first time upon those white bedsheets. You are more patient than I. You drew more love out of me than others. Did you bathe in milk like the ancient Egyptians? Did you powder your skin with that ghost? I should like to know. Life is meant to be tough, Bethany, so that at the end we can say that we lived; we did not sleep through it; life kept us awake. Neither of us should end it prematurely because – and I believe the old people when they tell me – it will end prematurely enough. Look at us moaning about these trifles! You are silent when I am silent because you understand my silence. Those minutiae vulva you carried underneath you are plum jetstreams of some hallowed aeroplane and I was obsessed with them as we brushed our teeth together, nude, side-by-side, in that none-too-shabby bathroom, and the vulva were so plum and so red that I was in love. Bethany, you are a white deity with creations of pink on your cunt and your knuckles and your nostrils. Tonight is wearing on me; I am alive, thinking of you, thoughts thoughting of you and thinking of you; you will forgive me if I sleep alone. The sea is slowing now. Well, good-bye, Bethany, and tell your boyfriend to forgive my follies. We have not fucked up yet. You are beyond the body you keep. In the sky of my lovers, you are one of the most elaborate constellations.

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