Dear Kamau,

“The source of suffering is a desire for nouns to be other than what they are, the very essence of metaphor.” Aaron Fagan

There seemed to be such beautiful shadows in who you were, but perplexed by fears of who you would not be (or were not but thought otherwise), you were repeatedly lost.

Not fitfully you held on to your particular virtue, therefore judging, cancelling, alienating – you made it clear that reality is not enough – and yes, inevitably growing apart from all that attempted to define or own you. You had to push them all away, you knew (or didn’t know better), and so you did.

You broke (but, apparently, never bent) in appalling regularity, but was this really your fault? Did they bring you up right – can you really ask that, would you ever know?

I have these profound memories of you being bold and abandoning yourself to a kind of love, was it true that which very soon you left?

You were tens of people from one day to the next, always riding fences. You segued from season to season with a puzzling rapidity, fast-slow-fast, like in those years and places where Vivaldi wrote his music.

Now here we are, and still the tenacious hills have been left for us.

I would be lying through my teeth if I told you that I know that much more than you. What I know now, though, is that this is how it has to be. That certainty – outside your virtue – is an illusion. Now that we know so little – you and I – like vessels we must now continue the eternal task of filling ourselves.

Through the long and tender sands of time, you might realise that that is actually all you need to stand on: sand, never rock. The self is treacherous and dynamic, indeterminate. And where is the surprise in that – why assume a peak when there may be no mountain?

I keep getting told that I should stop riding those fences, that my tragedy, my prison, will be walking through this world alone. Maybe Sexton makes even more sense, it seems we ought to be tired of being brave. But you see – everyone has a story. And who the hell can see forever?

This is true. See, how even your fiercest loves still pale in view your greatest fear: that in the end you will outlive them all. For now, I guess all I can say is: never mind the darkness.

As yet I still reread Wordsworth’s Anecdote for Fathers. Some things seem so unreal.

In curious uncertainty,


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