Vivek Shraya, I’m Afraid of Men
I have done it,“ she says. At first I do not understand. But then I see the tomb, and the marks she has made on the stone. A C H I L L E S, it reads. And beside it, P A T R O C L U S.
"Go,” she says. “He waits for you.”
In the darkness, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless, heavy dusk. Their hands meet, and light spills in a flood like a hundred golden urns pouring out of the sun.
My mother had twelve children and - as she told me one hard day - seven miscarriages.
The holes in her head are not her fault.
Even so, I have never forgiven her any of it.
I just can’t.
I have not forgiven her for my sister Margaret who we called Midge, until she died, aged forty-two, from pancreatic cancer.
I do not forgive her my beautiful, drifting sister Bea.
I do not forgive her my first brother Ernest, who was a priest in Peru, until he became a lapsed priest in Peru.
I do not forgive her my brother Stevie, Ita, Mossie, Liam, Veronica, Kitty, Alice and the twins, Ivor and Jem.
Such epic names she gave us - none of your Jimmy, Joe or Mick.
The miscarriages might have got numbers, like ‘1962’ or ‘1964’, though perhaps she named them too, in her heart (Serena, Aifric, Mogue).
Life is hard
and pain is hard
and it’s hard or me to write plainly
about the night my girlfriend told me she still loved you
and call it art
it did not feel like art
One, a smile across your immortal face, asked
Me to tell you what was the matter with me,
Why had I called and
What did I most want in my crazy heart. ‘Who
Now,’ you asked, ‘am I to persuade to take you
Back and love you, soon she’ll bring them,
If she doesn’t love, very soon she will do
Whether or not she
The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures