When you are six years old he says
“you’re my best mate. we’ll be
together forever, won’t we?”
and you smile and you laugh
and he does too
as the sky grows dark and you are
pulled back inside
the rays from the sun still lighting your eyes.
When you are ten years old you notice
how the light from his eyes has dimmed
but you don’t understand and neither should you.
‘he’s my best mate. we’ll always be best mates.’ you tell
your father, who has told you to treat h i m
as if he had secrets to hide.
but he’s your best mate. and
‘best mates don’t keep secrets.’
When you are twelve years old you notice
how your feelings have distorted.
When asked about a girl you said “but i don’t see her like that.’
one night you are with your best mate you feel
like he could cure the cancer you fear is in your soul
Even when your father
takes you to church and prays
for you to be spared from the boy sitting across the pews from you.
Age is just a number and now you are fifteen.
Nothing you have tried has changed what you feel for h i m
your father says that the soul you fear is your own
is destined to be judged at the gates of hell.
But your best mate, he looks hollow, as if his own soul
has been ripped from his body, as if his own thoughts poured petrol over it
to be ignited within his throat
or cursed for where his skin has been defiled by his grief.
Life is now a single void but people say you’re sixteen.
Your father says you are in his bad books, and God
reviews those bad books, and says that what h e does is sin.
‘But he’s your best mate. Your best mate would never sin.’
You tell yourself.
And you ignore the glow of his wrists as he
cries himself to sleep with his head curled in on your chest.
And you wake to find yourself cut with the exposed fractures of his mind.
You stare at the sheet of paper that states you are eighteen.
‘you are a man. you are a man. you are a man.’
And men don’t let themselves sin like you have sinned
You wash your mouth out with holy water each night before you sleep.
And your best mate washes the taste of a medicated high from his lungs
as he sits where you used to sit as kids, no life in his eyes
except the reflection a flame makes on the sorrows he has bled.
Those numbers. The world revolves around numbers and your age hasn’t changed.
‘that’s my son. you’ll make me proud.’
words leave a bitter taste on your tongue and you can’t think
the syllables your father had shot through his lips like bullets from the barrel of a gun
ricocheting from each of the frail walls inside your mind.
Blood satisfies nothing as your best mate longs for the white-hot burning
bright shine of his soul to be reflected in the cracks to his vessel
'Life is too short.' says men. They know you are nineteen.
Your body a reflection of their own, clad in armour a reflection of their own.
those bullets your father fired held poison
for you can feel an inferno inside your mind, inside your soul. (you still have a soul, don’t you?)
What happened to your best mate?
denial and betrayal and mourning. It was his fault you are there, you were sent to die
while he is here. Throat sore from sleepless nights.
He knows you better than you know yourself.
Time coils around your brain and you are still nineteen. Your existence is nothing but flesh wounds to yourself.
you curse(thank) whatever god is listening for that
mistake(escape) that sent you back
to the plane of Oblivion of which your father painted for you as a child. You deserved it. (you deserved it)
Your best mate is losing himself,
He has already lost you