I often spin around with you and hear the fragile music of a carousel; I feel your black arms round me in a heavy sweep of closeness, taking me up on notes which fall like eggs through water.
I am older now and you have fallen from the garish horse a long time since, and I am holding on with thin brown fingers. Do you know it’s been a quarter century since you (with your voice like the man who plays God in the movies) kissed me? I don’t remember your kisses. I remember you wearing striped pyjamas and waving to me from the ward - your great hand scooping a half-circle out of nothing; how my brother almost choked on a Lifesaver until a male nurse turned him upside down and out came the white mint with the hole that saved him.
I dreamed you died, and when I woke my mother was by the bed. ‘How will I light the fire?’ she said. I didn’t know.
It was cold in our house; our breath came out round as balloons and dissolved till we breathed again. We learned to accommodate spaces as you must have learned to accommodate… but no. Where there is no place to put things, no place for your bones or your slippers or my words there cannot be a place for spaces. It must be fine to know only lack of substance - the round emptiness in an angel’s trumpet - and still hear music.
I have the things you made and she has made us see you in them. I have the ivory statues and the pictures telling stories of African ancestors, a birth, flights into Egypt. In your work I find the stillness of your eyes and mouth the stillness which is always at the centre of the spinning ball we hurl high and long.
I often spin around with you and hear the fragile music of a carousel. My horse would gallop forward if I let him but I prefer the swinging back to where we were, slow undulations round and back to identical place. I prefer to see your black hands with mine on a crimson mane which will never be swept back by the wind.