Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Wednesday, 5 July 2017


Moment of Truth

(for J.)

She found herself
alone with the truth;
it was an awkward moment –
they'd not been introduced.

They'd seen each other
over the years, of course,
a nodding acquaintance
in a small town.

He wasn't what she'd imagined –
quite a gentle man –
but then neither was she
what she purported to be.

He wanted to talk first.
No – he never said, "first:"
he just wanted to talk
and she was confused.

Until he explained
how it was meant to be,
the nature of their universe
and this thing called love.

10 July 1994
Two years from now I’ll write a poem entitled ‘The Impossibility of Crows’ (#792). It was for and about J. and no one else will get it but it wasn’t for anyone else. In our letters and our phone calls (but especially in the letters) we revealed ourselves to each other. Taking off your clothes is easy. Baring your soul is another thing entirely. What I learned about J. surprised and saddened me and I came to see her in a completely different light. We think we know people because we are people but that’s like a glass of lukewarm water imagining it can understand an ice floe or a fog bank. I had no idea who J. was, not the slightest clue. Mostly because she didn’t want people to know or was trying to convince herself she was no longer that person. A bit of both most likely.

Why “first”? Because when you’ve spent a lifetime seeing one thing in the mirror it’s hard to see anything else. A victim only ever sees a victim, a sinner only ever sees a sinner, a lost cause only ever sees a lost cause. It’s not for me to tell J.’s story. I still have her letters, all of them, apart from the pages she asked me to destroy after I’d read them. But I remember them. All of them.

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