Wednesday, September 06, 2006

oxygen

12 days ago i stood in front of the residence zenith in cáorle, a little town on italy's adriatic cost, where i spent many weeks with my parents and brother(s) during my childhood and teenage years. after sepp had taken a picture of me at the entrance, i told him that in this house i had been properly kissed for the first time in my life. it was a guy called sean from outside waterford, ireland. i still remember how it happened, how we were joking and suddenly i think we both knew that really, we were talking about something completely different between the lines.

looking through the pictures a couple of days ago, i decided to try and google sean. i had tried before - i sometimes do that, i type in names of former classmates or people i met travelling, or long-lost pen-pals. but in sean's case i had never been successful. this time, however, i was.

what i gathered from the first document that seemed relevant, was this: that sean drowned a little over two years ago. there was an address, his parents', and it did sound vaguely familiar. still, i decided to look further, and found out that sean had died in a diving accident off the coast of northern ireland. the age given and a few other details all pointed to the sean i had once met, kissed, written to a few times, and then lost touch with.

i sent two emails - one to a father gearoid, one to a diving buddy. one answer came yesterday, father gearoid promising to make inquiries, and one came today, with a link to a tribute page for sean. thank you both. i am especially grateful for the link, because it tells me a little about what kind of person the teenage boy i met on an italian beach turned into. (i don't have any doubts now that this is the sean i knew.)

it's strange - we met so briefly, only for a few days, and we never saw each other again, nor did we hear from each other in nearly 20 years, and still, still this affected - and affects - me.

here's the poem i wrote, still kind of in progress (feel free to make suggestions), and incidentally the first one of a series i plan to do that could be hard work.

oxygen

       in memory of sean power, drowned 2004,
       the first boy to kiss me


even before we get off on the third floor,
something's lurking behind laughter,

the familiar smell of beach half-washed
down the drains. i know the hollow sound

of knuckles on lime-green wainscoting,
but not the way it sighs against my back.

lift doors close discreetly, the hall light
clicks out. inside me, tides turn. a joke

fizzles out in whispers. your hands long
to live in my hair, like wind and sand,

the murmur of waves. cracked lips meet.
you taste of a sea so different from the

cold, determined ocean that will pour
into you one irish summer. my mouth

can't help but open. i understand the pull
of depths, the urge to dive, and dive.

one could forget that surfacing too fast,
air would cut through us like knives.

song of the day: tori amos - northern lad

7 comments:

megalopoet said...

stunning tribute, m.
what a story.

SarahJane said...

yes, a good story, michi.
thanks

Sam of the ten thousand things said...

I enjoyed this poem Michi. And story.

Arlene said...

this is so sad, michi. must've been quite a blow :(

love this tribute to sean. and the song!! just fits the moment.

hugs,
a.

michi said...

thanks, ladies. and sam.

Liz said...

Hi Michi,

Just catching up...I'm bowled over by this experience...how amazing...love the poem too.

Great holiday photos and rundown...it sounds like you had a great time.

Just peeked into 30:30...well done on getting started again...I think I'll lie low until a quieter time even though I'd love to be part of it :)

Liz
x

michi said...

thanks for the note, liz.

yes, it is quite busy at the forum at the moment. i stopped counting how many of us are there, but about 12 or so. lisa has just finished round 11. wow. i hope i get through this round somehow. *S* would be nice to read your work there again some time soon.

m