My darling cousin,
With the turning of August, rain clouds came to grace the skies, fervently
blowing against the simmering heat with their pleasant fall winds. Now,
towards the end of September, the remainder of a too hot summer is sucked
- clouds and winds and rain and all - from the heavens, and the break
of day is cold, and clear, and quiet.
Four years ago, on this date, they found her. I do not know how she lay
in the pale morning light, though I have oft seen her in my fevers and
panic-ridden nights: on her back, her pretty red dress and black silken
stockings in shreds, her lifeless eyes gazing eternally at the rising
sun as if she had been waiting for it to come and take her, lift her up
from the agony so deeply etched on her face only the fires of her cremation
could erase it.
I am not sure whether I was spared or pained by being denied a final farewell.
All I have is the memory of kissing her good-bye on the doorstep the night
before, telling her to have fun at the dance and warning her, casually,
not to do what I would not do.
"Don't do anything I wouldn't," my last words to her. Sometimes,
as I turn my back on her in my mind to walk down our street and disappear
again around the corner, compelled by business in another city which seems
so trivial now, I can hear her softly say: "Darling, I do love you."
Would I have gone home that night with a total stranger, while friends
averted their eyes at my transgressions? Would I have stayed with him
and have allowed him to fuck me six ways from Sunday before leaving in
the early hours in the dark and seedy part of town? Would I have blamed
myself as I bled to death on the cobbles for what I had done, or for what
And so you were born on that very day, my little cousin. I held you in
my arms only hours after your first breath and her last, and as you looked
up at me, your unbelievably tiny hand reaching for my face, your smile
slowly mingled with the dull darkness in my head and I became your godfather.
Dear boy, you are four today, and I am sorry I could not be there. I am
sorry you had to sleep in that room alone, for our fleeting good-bye,
for not taking you with me on the train you love to ride so much. It saddens
me that I cannot make you understand why my life twists and turns this
way, and that you must think I am not there for you, though I made a solemn
promise to your parents I would watch over you whenever you needed it.
A vow they had to plead little to receive, and one not made in vain, I
I am almost there, my sweet boy, and we will take the train to whatever
city takes your fancy. We will spend no more nights alone, not this winter,
not any winter to come. Then, I will explain to you the bitterness with
which I hold you, the tears with which I love you, the pain with which
I celebrate your existence year after year.
If you should read this, my darling child, before I've had the opportunity
to tell you my mind, to make you see who I am, then please remember me
as who I am to you now: the giant on whose shoulders you sat, who made
you fly before you could walk, who made you laugh before you could talk,
who loved you before any had taught you of love lost.
Come now. The iron road beckons. Let us ride and rejoice in what the miles
Dedicated to the woman for whom I must
forever find new ways to say, "I love you."