The Poet's Last Christmas || Russell M Gurnhill

by Russell M Gurnhill

CW: Suicide

‘for dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.’ – Genesis 3:19

Drip. Drip. Drip. The tap-born tears hypnotise. The warmth seeping into my form lulls and cozens. The pain in my arms begins to recede as I lay here, sleepy, and serene. Let forever be, there is only this moment.

The odour of wax assails my nostrils dragging me back from remembrance for a brief time, but my memories of you will not be subdued, my Aphrodite, my Eve. My world.

Drip. Drip. Drip. I can taste the metallic tang in the air, faint - but as it mingles with the salts within the water and the acrid effulgence of the burning wick it taints my smell; senses heightened by the darkness behind my closed lids. Amber and patchouli were always your favourite.

Yet, still I see you with such clarity, then, as now, glowing through the darkness of the present, far into the past of memory; mine only, for yours is gone, those ephemeral wisps of thought have deserted you. Oh, my love, my tortured heart is breaking once more.

As the pain recedes, a new sensation creeps in, leaving me languid and languorous, as I lay and feel the echoes of the distant past.

Glowing embers from that first meeting sparked desire that lasted a lifetime, one lost to the veil of the dark. The first time ever I saw you, when we met that evening in shared celebration of a mutual friend, strangers to each other still, little did we know of the temple we would build to our love, wherein you keep the relics that are all my secrets. Secrets that will never be revealed now…

Drip. Drip. Drip. Our shared love of Ovid, oh fortuitous poet, gave me the first glimpse of the shimmering sliver of your smile, rose-red lips parting in recitation to light the journey we were to undertake. Your voice that first night a pure, rich symphony that tingled my senses and vibrated through my being, each sweet note beguiling and bewitching. I was smitten. And so, you, Aphrodite given form, began to lay the seeds as breadcrumbs on the road to your soul. As I pieced the puzzle together, the moon took control of my being; for if the moon is a lady, so is my wife, and satellite to my earth. Thus, love formed in orbit around us as our friendship grew. Until, when we met under the kissing tree, I declared my love for you, giving you my heart, my soul. And you hold them still, though you are no longer aware.

Oh, but the nights we would lie entwined, our mingled breaths sustaining us. But now… I feel the phantom whispers of your shallow breath caressing my neck, my skin, my soul. Your spirit falls as splashes of sunlight that paint the carpet of my despair. Oh, how you could wield that brush, my sweet love. Each painter in the picture of life adds their own colour to the canvass, contributing their own small part of the picture. Only when finished can one stand back and see the whole. Your exuberant sketching that outlined our existence to be, created a diptych of pure love.

Drip. Drip. Drip. Yet the fairy-tale of our fate was ever fated to fail. Though we fought and we tried, all to no avail were our efforts. No more shall you regale me with tales of your life before we met. Those fantastical fables you wove so beautifully, eyes shining as you drifted back to the past of remembrance, lips parted in glee, teeth shimmering a silver halo of happy memory as those adventurous tales tripped lilting from your argent throat. The tale of the pearl fishermen; brothers you knew on the isle who would cast themselves into the depths from the small craft they owned, as you lay in the skiff, book in-hand, drinking in the sun and the words of Amis you adored so much. I remember your glee at their pursuit of you, and your eloquent dismissal of their amorous advances as you quoted definitions of infatuation from London Fields to them. They never understood, never stood a chance. 

Drip. Drip. Drip. Later, the Spaniard who would quote Cicero to you, vainly pledging his life to your honour even as you dismissed his pleas with extravagant allegory. ‘You are hardly Cyrano, Pepe, though I surmise your myth is a similar Gordian Knot that I do not wish to unravel!’. How we laughed at your recounting this, how I loved you even more because of it.

I could listen to your voice forever, though now it brings only pain and despair from which I reel. And yes, I know the words are not yours. Truly I do, my love; they are of the demon that possesses your reason. No more shall you sing me to sleep, though I would give all that still is for you to come sing me there now, so I never again awake. Though you may wax, may you never wane, even though your moon has set, never to rise again. All that is left is we two, satellites, split from each other, celestial bodies captured within our own gravitas, never to converse again as couple.

Drip. Drip. Drip. Damn this tightrope of insanity! Damn it to hell! Your existence has become a distortation of the truth, as Dahl would say. And all that remains is the tangled wreckage that survives of our relations. I took for granted all the things I held within my hand, yet those hours we had can never be taken from us, only our future; your fractured mind taken by that madness. Imago Dei indeed, my goddess. Yet where is your intellect now? Robbed by an insidious viciousness bereft of respect for your dignity, your being.

Where have all the snows gone in this winter of our lives; the flakes have no regularity, no pristine essence that cleanses the world we see. This insidious blight is a needle of contempt, seeking any entrance to instil its poisonous intent. When your heart’s pinprick hole tears and rips a rent in your soul there is no defence, no return. I lost you. Where once we stood side by side, hand in hand, living our dream here in wonderland, now we are sundered forever, in separate worlds that can never meet. You, in your labyrinth of loneliness, I, fading in despair as I stand outside your mental cage, hopeless and helpless, watching you fade into the abyss, as I fade into despair. Your voice stilled; your every breath is base, mere oxygen to the lungs of the shell that you inhabit. The light in your eyes has set, now you stare blank and unaware of the love that surrounds you, blankets you, screams into the void of madness that refuses to let you acknowledge my existence. My heart is broken.

Where once my glory was reflected by your own light, sustaining me through the long, verse-filled days, now I ride the tides of night; your moonshine no longer falls across our landscape, your moon-dance no longer warms me, the moonstone I placed upon your hand the only symbol of what we were. My moon rose the day we met, and I learned then, all that glisters is not gold – it is silver. But here you are, benighted, and I am bereft.

I hear the iron bells tolling now, calling the faithful to midnight mass on this crisp and even night. Mine own faith is lost.

Drip. Drip. Drip. The coolness that surrounds me now is not of the water’s making. I feel the lifeblood draining slower now, the crimson lake that surrounds me lulling my senses, my mind wandering further into that darkness I wish to embrace, drifting slowly to self-transcendence. There I shall gravitate to you, guided by your shimmering, glimmering iridescence, where I will float around you, my tides ebbing and flowing in conjunction with your gravity. 

Let us re-join in the next world, my love, my Aphrodite, my Selene; I go to join my Juliet in her world of sweet fancy.

So warm so warm

so cold so cold 

so tired so tired

so dark

so dark 

I am here, my ...

Image Credit: DepositPhotos


Russ, novelist: obsessed with the construction and form of the novel,
storytelling, and Ezra Pound’s wish to ‘make it new’, is engaged with
untangling the Gordian knot of life. Literary fiction is his passion, and, like
his fellow writers, he aspires to be published - but more; to be read. 


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