Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I am a young boy with a fistful of glass, blind and sitting in Ocean View Cemetery. Raymond Carver's grave is right in front of me. I hold the glass reverently, like it is three wilted daisies. The wind blows and it is warm, carrying the breath of the Japanese sun goddess Amaterasu. I can sense her presence, feel her in my visionless world pushing the warm air all over the cemetery and I can hear Carver's gravelly voice over my shoulder.

He tells me a story he wrote about a man who was going around with the most beautiful woman in town. How he had been looking for love in every corner, to the ends of the Earth until he found her. For many years he was happy. Then he found the bottle... and he couldn't decide which he loved best. Couldn't give them both the attention they deserved or demanded. So he slowly spiralled downwards into silence. His wife jokingly called him 'Holy Man', because he never spoke, just kept his head down, glass in hand. His head was down the day she packed her bags and threatened to leave. He rocked back and forwards trying to shape the words in his mouth. 'Will you please be quiet, please' (the title of one of his collections of short stories). His head was down the day she left. He held his whisky like it were a woman, his eyes all full of love.

He speaks to me again. 'That's the way it is when love breaks down like a hunk-o-junk Ford station wagon in a busy shopping centre car park'.

Then there is silence for quite some time and I wonder if he has gone.

'Jezus', he says. 'That's a lot of words for this early in the morning'.

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