Letters to The Summer God
I rest my head on your shoulder and watch the slow rise and fall of the space between your clavicle. You are the colour of terracotta, smooth and soft like unpicked fruit, and it seems strange to pull the hard white of the sheets around you. You laugh as I do so, like I’m a child playing with a doll.
Do you want to stay here, or
I have to charge my phone, I say, suddenly tired and aware of my nakedness.
You nod. I can see that you are tired too, as I close the hotel door to 404 and you blow a kiss back to me from a wide palm. It isn’t love. Mutual curiosity, mutual respect, perhaps. Every night I will dream of you, through the flicker of the wet snow and the unforgiving flare of a streetlight outside. I should have kissed you in the taxi, I’ll reminisce, when you called me beautiful. Was it beautiful? Or something else?
I had been slurred with alcohol at the time, words and events caught between my fractured recollections. I wish I had kissed you, when you had said that. You deserved to be kissed. There is a scar in you, a deep one, a deep line of guilt and loss. I wonder if I’ve the only one who has sensed it. Things that had been unsaid, and now would perhaps never been said, and a name on your mind you wished to forget, or perhaps to remember in happier times.
We didn’t make love. That part was true.
It was lust that night, and I’m not even sure it was that. You looked at me like a strange specimen, some unusual bird or butterfly from an exotic collection, studying me silently after I stripped too fast in front of you. You interrogated me throughout, on lovers, on heartbreak, on experience. I laughed at your questions, but truthfully responded to each one of your slurred investigations.
Your wife, mine. We never said their names.
That was the only unspeakable act in our infidelity. You didn’t kiss me, then, not as you had done after we had sat on your hotel floor in a haze of smoke. I don’t know what you gave me then, darling, but it calmed me. You had sex as you did everything, mechanically, critically, eager to please. It was transactional, efficient. I was too tired to please you much. So we talked, and I held you, and you held me.
I didn’t feel guilty, darling, and I hoped you didn’t, too. There was nothing to be guilty for.
We were two lonely people thrown together, and I was one of your people in a lonely list of hotel numbers trying to form some meaning, some pleasure, some enjoyment. Nothing more. There could be no sins in Gorlitzer Park, in this heady maze of talcum powder and coke, graffiti and boheme women you knew for an hour. We were in Berlin, a city where it was too easy to become nobody for a night, and I was a lover you took with little pleasure, but perhaps one who understood you. You fear me, I know that, but with no cause. I do not feed on the pain of kind men.
You are a creature of summer, David. You belong in the vineyards, the foothills and dinner parties of this earth, forever beneath the cyan skies and white sun, a world without winter and the cold. You fell for me at a dinner party, you told me once. You hadn’t noticed me before. I wore blue. We held court. I knew I didn’t matter to you, not much, at any rate. I was disposable, a footnote perhaps in a long page of one weekend. My name would be lost, my face forgotten. I do not know nor mind the number of lovers you have had since that summer of long ago. You loved me for that one night.
How do you say your name, kid, you had asked me over your cigar.
Julius, but without the j, I had said, laughing.
Julius, you had said, pressing your left hand around my shoulder. I’m David.
I have no regrets, my darling.
But I wish I had kissed you in the back of that taxi.