I took the ferry, once again, that morning, after a long repose,
to the other side, the one formerly ‘his side’, the side I used,
so often, to cross to, to eat, to sleep, to kiss, to share,
the same ferry that took me from the real world to his world,
which became my world until it was our world, for a while.
That small stretch of water that separated one from the other,
so small and insignificant and yet deeper than we ever imagined.
I cycled on and as morning met the afternoon, I passed that farm
we’d stopped at in the middle of nowhere, in that time long ago,
to buy eggs and milk for no other reason than because we could
but not with him, the other one, the one who’d distracted me
after we’d stopped ferrying back and forth when the water got colder
and proved less penetrable. That other man, the native man
and newly separated too, who’d kiss and cuddle and hold and stop
and break and kiss and stop and kiss and kiss and smile sometimes.
He’s happier now, I see it in photographs, but he stopped for me
for that time after we’d stopped, like I said, and I’ll always be grateful.
It wasn’t long after I cycled over the bridge at Ijburg and slipped back
into the city from the east and passed his house and smiled
at the thought of him, the one that had stopped, another one, not the kisser
or the one across the water, but the one who’d come before them both,
the blonde, after I’d been lost in a sea of darks or so she said
in that play, Suddenly Last Summer, and it never left my mind.
No, the first one who’d found me in that foreign land, who’d spotted me
in cap and boots, drinking whiskeys and beers on a Sunday afternoon,
my first Sunday afternoon, raining outside, of course, was it really always
raining? He wasn’t home that day, but he was somewhere close to me,
within, still teaching me scraps of his native tongue
that would later kiss me all over and cover me in its scent.
He used to watch me from the corner of his eye, wondering
if I was shocked and surprised at his life and smiling, sometimes,
at how I stayed around. But I wasn’t, not at all, not even once
in all that short life we shared together that swiftly passed into the past
just like yesterday and the day before, just like today will do tomorrow
and yet, for some sweet reason it all returned to me that day,
not so long ago, before I left the flatlands for the French ones,
that almost ordinary summer Sunday, in August that graced me
with warmth as it gently kissed me on the cheek before distance,
inevitably, carried it off on a subtle breeze as I cycled on home,
a home that is no more in reality, but that remains so close
to the heart as this journey continues along its route.
All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly