A revelation from the book of Matthew/ A fragmentary testament of a youth


Proclaimed homecome

From Saudi

At the school gate

A celebrity


Perhaps in assembly

You showed us

Pictures of sand

Or something like

A tea towel

Secured with an

Elastic band

Around your head

Pre-PC

In the C of E

Primary


I didn’t quite understand, but

Maybe even then, what was put on you was that

You were exotic, erotic

To be revered, and

You’d be

Soft as a silken dune

To fall into


Without feeling worthy of it

I 9th wondered at

Your pale wide hands

How far your fingernails had been

From being filled

With the wet filth

Of boys play

Like some kind of

Otherworld purity


In this altered gaze

I remember your lips

Were like

The shock of

Rising riverbanks

In an imagination of

A desert


********

Your brother bred hamsters

I wanted one

They made me call you


The wheezing rotary

My reluctant digits, so slow

To release

The fingerstop springs


My first phone call:

my words drowned

In the meek well

Of my throat


I shook


I couldn’t ask

I had to pass

the handset

To my tutting mum


(I called him ‘Scamper’, and

When he died,

And they said:

‘We gave him to an old people’s home’ –

I knew he was underground;

Alone)


********

In shifting shoals of vicious cunt kids,

You were

Conspiratorially and

Covertly kind


At the time

I thought it some kind of charity thing

Because to me you were the King

Of cool; of the school


I could feel it

But could not see

You kept in touch,

Solomon – like,

With your humanity


We stole sweets

And shared them

Sacramental like

Communion wine, sometimes


For a second

You lent me

Your eyes

Up from under

Your flop of fringe

Two hazel flecked bays

Coruscant with

Play, in some ways


You kept me alive

In those days


********

When my breasts were first bristling

My nipples prickled

At you, secretly

Under swathes of thick

Chaste cotton jersey


Your grey marled

School trousers strained

Over your buttocks

Like a pair of peaches

In a handkerchief


And, I tried not

To look

Like I was looking


********

When I scalded

My chest

And couldn’t wear clothes

And all the cool girls

Told, everyone

I was off school

Because


I’d tried to kill myself

By slitting my wrists

But had done it wrong


Matt you, were the only one

Who came over

(You must have walked at least a mile)

To see if I was ok

Unannounced


(I might have pounced then

If I’d been bold)


But sitting in my room

I was so anxious,

So keen to impress

Whilst making it clear

With my Best Teenage Faux Nonchalance

That I was Not Trying To Impress


I think

Out of the goodness of your heart

You did your best

Impression of

Being impressed

To save me

My gut wrenching

Cats cradle of

Cringe


And we shared TDKs

Bleach, Jellyfish and

The Blue Aeroplanes


********

That night when I let it slip

In the park

That my folks

Were away and

I had a key

And I was going home

And everyone followed me

And trashed the garden

While I hid in the house

And you got the blame

And my parents made you

Bow your head in our lounge

And apologise

And pay

For my brothers goalposts

And mums washing line

And they made me sit there

While they did it


I could have died


********

6th form college

I made a new friend

I knew she was cool

And she knew

Nothing of my school

Maybe I could

Finally

By association

Shed my shun-me skin


Clumsily

I tried to Cilla

Neither of you were interested but

Once you came to one

Of her parties

And spent the night

Taking to wild animals

On a walkie talkie improvised from

a juice carton and a straw


It was fucking hilarious


********

Then That Night

When some serendipitous somehow

Had us meeting, and

You ended up staying

With me

In that flat

That belonged to

The mother of

The man I’d let ruin me

For years

And because he had

Someone prettier to fuck

And he was playing nice

And he didn’t know you from Adam

He left us

To sleep on a camp bed

And his mums sofa

And we tried each other

On


I was drunk

On perplexing bemusement


Sometimes I let

Myself remember

The freshly matured sapling

Of your body

Braced

On the camp bed

As you came


I moisten

And I shiver

Like you quivered

My mouth hangs open


It was

The least humiliating

Sexual experience

Of my youth


And you were beautiful

And I was scared

Like a ragged old woman

Who had inexplicably been given

A handful of pearls

And might be

At any moment

Accused of stealing


Was it that morning

You drove me home

And said

You didn’t know

Who to be more jealous of,

And I laughed it off?


********

And that night, I have

Photographs from it somewhere

When new far flung friends

Were the raucous imported gaiety

Of our childhood village


And boiling blood flushed

My décolletage

Like a baboons ass

On heat, because

We were all free at last

On the street


********

And ten years ago when

Out of the blue

You told me

The campbed

Had been

The scene, of

Your deflowering

And you thanked me

And for about a week

My gaping jaw again

Grazed the floor


How could it be true

That I of all people, had been that for you?


The bedraggled duckling

In a flock-swarm

Of swans


********

And you know what?

I never stitched

These things, together

Into the hypothesis

That maybe you’d

Liked me

Human:human

All along

Because it was just

So improbable that

Anyone

Who wasn’t utterly desperate would


Until more than 20 years later

And we’ve both made children

And grown up:

Released from the crush, the

Teenage brain mush

Lust mellowing, to wistful

Long-distance, wry-grinning friendship-love


And there you are, you

Are mortal, and

You are still

being kind


It occurs to me

That maybe the bind

Was not that you

Were above me

Uber cool

But that in putting you there

Idealised, (and objectified),

I had not seen

That maybe

You had been

As lost and found

As me

All along


So ‘❤️always xxx’ to you too

Matthew