Wole Soyinka says: ”haste to repay
The debt of birth. Yield man-tides like the sea
And ebbing, leave a meaning of the fossilled sands.” At my grandfather’s funeral I wore his shoes. I watched my feet like they were giving a lecture, because it’s not everyday aphorisms become axioms. I consider it a lesson in hermeneutics. Or recognition I’ve moved one step closer to the bank of the river Styx; from where I stand I can see the back of Charon’s head. I look up. My grandfather is still dead. This is not a magic trick. You wonder: Poetry or Prose? It has the makings of all the best poems, the best poems being about sex or death. Mostly, this is the latter. My grandmother was the only one who didn’t cry. After the funeral we met for drinks the way we always do at holidays or tragedies. I got drunk and became uncomfortable by my relative’s comments about how handsome I looked in my funeral attire: black shoes, black pants, black belt, gray shirt. I stole my car keys and drove the hour and a half to your apartment, knowing fully well that our relationship — at the time — may not be able to take the strain. I did not tell you I was coming, and when you opened your front door to me standing on your welcome mat I could feel the energy leave your body the way submarines leave light behind as they plunge into the deep. We did not know it yet, but were beginning to understand, that we were poison to each other. I did not care. I had someone to blame now. We fucked that night because it gave us something to do. In the morning I sat on the side of your bed and you walked around to meet me in nothing but your underwear and a white tank top, which still made me lust for you, like our bodies were wholly unfamiliar to each other. We’d become bored of each other’s moles and freckles and scars, seeing, not universes or constellations, but rather dead stars and the useless space in between them. Still though, seeing you like this stirred something in me. You grabbed the waistband of my underwear and pulled down. I used my arms to lift myself up and my shorts slid to my ankles. You took me in your hand, and as I became harder you placed me gently in your mouth. When I came you, rose up off your knees and walked to the bathroom while I lay there, staring at your ceiling, panting. Usually after sex in the morning’s my eyes grew heavy, and sleep would tug at me, pulling me slowly back under in spite of all of my resistance. Only now I was overwrought with grief. I was too angry to be tired. My grandfather was likely in hell and we were killing each other. I was drowning in you. I started to cry and said, Fuck fuck fuck, over and over again, and I slipped off your bed and walked to the bathroom door and placed my hand on the handle. You were brushing your teeth. The sink was running. Instead of walking in I punched a hole in the wall next to the door. I reached into the opening and began tearing out chucks of drywall until it was wide enough to fit a backpack. You didn’t yell at me, but I could hear you crying from the other side of the door. You were hysterical. I pictured you red faced, your features pulled together like a fist, your lips out-turned and wet, as you crouched on the cold tile and curled your hands around the counter so you wouldn’t fall over. I was crying too, weak, and quietly, and I hated you for everything. I wish you’d have let me leave you. But I clawed my way back to you in spite of my pride and dragged you to this flat, sprawling state; but not before I caught you crawling on your belly under your garage door to go fuck somebody else like I was trash. I put on my pants and my shirt and walked out of your room, out of your house, like you were no longer my responsibility. Your mother calls to talk to me occasionally, about the anxieties of her seeing eye dog, and she says she wonders why we don’t talk anymore. I can’t imagine why we wouldn’t, I say. Because whenever I try to think about it, nothing comes to mind.