I told her that I loved her
to fill the gaps between us.
But the gaps were too big
and my words were too small.
So with nothing more to cling to
she held herself and shivered,
then with neither word not gesture
she turned and walked away.
17 December 1987
Between leaving school in 1975 and 1999 I wrote only two short stories. Lots of poems—I was a poet after all—but prose didn’t have much of a pull on me. I don’t have exact dates for the stories but they were both written in the late seventies. The first was a most odd one—a priest has a conversation with a terrorist who, if I remember correctly, had planted a bomb in his church—the second, after much revision, became ‘Waiting’ in which an unfaithful husband comes home to find his wife has discovered the scarf he’d bought for his lover. In the story the following line appears:
Able to stand it no longer he spoke first, small words that couldn’t possibly bridge the gap between them.
The poem is a reduction of the short story, a distillation. I’m not sure it works but it was an interesting thing to attempt. I have no idea why I chose the name Julia by the way. I’ve never known a Julia—a couple of Julies—but something clearly appealed at the time.