It’s a little after midnight. It was a gray wind blowing kind of day that became a moonlit cloud-driven night. I ambled through the town of Oban, having missed the last ferry, and satisfied the frustration with a beer in the pub.
The puddled rutty road gleaming in the moonlight…yes, the wonder of it.
I’ve come home certain that I will never again attempt such a thing: writing a play. This ridiculous idea kept me sleeping in a constant nightmare. I wanted to write the damn thing because it could have been about you and me, my head, heart, being there and not being there.
When I arrive again, I want you to make me some rich coffee, and, if you like, cook me a meal.
Sometimes I don’t know if I’m a child, a poet, a gypsy, but I do know where it feels like home, so I’m just a ferry ride from being in that place while you are there. And that seems to me extraordinary: you have always, since I’ve known you, said you belong to the larger part of society who boast that they are inarticulate, unable to put what they mean into words while people like me grope in the dark for a sense of literary form, proportion, or at our worst, perfection.
Do you think I’ll ever have sight of land again, or a semi-colon properly placed?
I drift on through life, richer, a braver adventurer than I ever dreamed of being in childhood. Maybe that is the beer talking.
I am going to leave here at the end of the week and go to the continent. My mind has gone to pieces these last several days. It is scattered. You say I do not care enough about you, failing to attend the opera. It was a heavy accusation. One I did not particularly care for. I was in a world-forsaking, oblivious spirit. That’s all. There was no other reason. You have told me how you always wanted to be loved, now you are.
For the first time in my life, work is not a delight to me. It is drudgery and I can hardly get through it. I must live wherever it suits me; wherever I wake and want to write.
I found your folded note in the pocket my jacket: How can you waste me the way you do, why are you not here with me, I love you and you let the ocean stay between us.
The reason is simple. I want to write endlessly.
In the morning, there will be fire on the water and I’ll be less inebriated, maybe. Tonight, there’s music in the bars; the music I know, and my soul dips and dives like a bird on the wing. In the end, we are who we are and it’s never enough.
A young woman sitting at the bar, her little heels tapping along, turns and gives me a bright look, her lips despairing, hardly old enough I wouldn’t wonder, the kind of girl who dies in a song. I feel the burning of inspiration, just looking at her. I could run from this scene, let the words disappear, but I have the power to survive her beauty. It’s happening again. I look at her and I’m reminded of the day the first a man stood on the moon, the whole world watching. Right now, I could be that man, not looking down on the world, just observing a pretty woman sitting at the bar.
When I look back down the years, I see the young man whose eye she would catch…but that same young man has fought his battles, cried his tears, and yet here he is, standing in a Scottish pub and shining again.
I order another pint and a whisky chaser. My pencil is broken, so I must type something into the notes app on my iPhone.
Nobody is serious when they are seventeen. Tonight, you sit in the noisy atmosphere of a pub, quite oblivious these words are for you. I look at you and I see fire in the sky, I see paradise, and you have no idea about me. We won’t talk at all. But if you rented out love, I’d stay. Getting drunk is fun, it allows the mind to drift, see the kisses rising from your lips, fluttering like butterflies, wanting them to land on mine.
‘Harry, don’t you remember me? I’m Avril, Snowy’s niece.’
With little shivers of perverseness cascading down my spine, the girl is indeed someone known to me, family! Have I been so absent that young girls turn into women without me noticing? What a lopsided world. I suddenly wish my thoughts about this young woman would disappear into a little scrap of sky, never to be thought again.
Amid the scent of beer and perfume we talk about her childhood. Yes, I remember. She was always a child with a charming air about her. Oh God, all since yesterday. I’m ashamed of the poetic fire burning inside me. Seventeen, for fuck’s sake! What a sad old man I’ve become. Memories danced from her mouth. Somewhere, a young man is waiting to kiss her delicate ankles, knead her young breasts, eyes closed to his touch. She has a soft, fragile laugh, and when given it breaks, it breaks into shining crystals on a night when her spirit feels free.
I don’t know what it is I have inside me…something…cher Dieu…something that burns to come out.
So, here it is. I’m an old man who drinks and dreams…or maybe dreams, then drinks.
By morning, I want to feel the sunshine on my face, stand and stare out to sea, living on the island. I know in my soul I have love to give, and when I lay down on the beach, I know where I will be going…toward a love I can call my own.
I’m troubled by the power of this dream…to think you are here with me tonight…forever more.