Let the Bright Seraphim

I know he is watching by the door. He moves silently when we are alone; footsteps falling between the beat of the Hub machinery so quietly I cannot discern his approach by sound. Of all the lovers I have had he has been the most timid, the most fiercely loyal.

Nor is his presence betrayed by his fluttering heartbeat (waves at low tide) but it is the smell of fresh coffee which precedes him – a torture less sublime.

I turn in the cot to face the doorway, still keeping my eyes tight shut. My smile brings him to quietude. He knows I am not sleeping but will do nothing to break my reverie.

Where should I be if this is not my land?

I wonder briefly how long he will stand there before he speaks but it would be cruel of me to test the limits of his adoration. Yet I drag the final moment out, wriggling my shoulders on the thin bedding and stretching my arms out in benison towards the light as if waking from a deep slumber. It is a masquerade we have often played. When my eyes open they are magically looking deep into his.

He takes this as a cue to enter my lair. As he places the old china mug carefully on a mat I run two practised fingers over the back of his hand. I have memorised the pathways of every hair, each curl and kink. The shallow furrows of his palm. The tiny pale scars left over from school rugby matches. His eyes are dark and aching.

All the nights I have tasted the wine of your lips.

He sits on the edge of the mattress as I sip his perfect coffee. Once I have touched him, once he is near me, his nervousness vanishes into history. If I drank for a thousand years still he would not tire of waiting. If I stole him away, took him in a victory of shame, in the climax of a cheap hotel, for all his protestations the candle of his love would not extinguish.

I pull him towards me; let him rest his fevered brow against mine. We are so close I can almost feel his thoughts ebbing through bone into my consciousness. His lips part, and before my tongue can dart between his teeth his hoarse breath carries an unspoken cry into the crispness of the air:

Have I told you why I am so alone?