John

JOHN

He was old-fashioned that boy. When he spotted me on his bike he honked his horn with his fair hair frying, and I thought he was like a boy in a book.

Open-necked shirts and trousers, and hair that kept getting shorter, that’s how I think of him. The sort who dozes after lunch and on trains and reads the newspaper. It was only after several months that we tucked my arm under his as he read.

He had the natural touch, and very early on would brush his hair against mine when he leant over to hear me, and rest of my shoulders as we pored over a map. I think of us reading maps in lanes in the sunshine. It is like looking at a scene from the world before a first world war. And this naturalness meant awkwardness when we would not kiss good bye if friends were there, and waved goodbye, seeking each other with our eyes.

All this time he was planning to leave and told me so. I was quick to absorb this warning shot but I came to believe it was more difficult for him. One day he met me in a blue tunic. I had dressed up for him too. That was the first time we spent the night t together. `What a day` he said `then bed`. He got up in the night and I watched him come back and undress. Very strong, his body anchored to his thighs. Lovely man.

`I see what you see`, he used to say. We were both teetering on the brink of love. I see London, a sunset, rooves in Clapham. You are in Africa. What do you see, John?