March 17, 2012 § 2 Comments
This is a picture of my dead brother’s best friend, Bruce and I’m not sure how I ended up with it, but I love it for a lot of reasons. It might even be the cover for my new book of poems which is called “The Talking Day”. The photograph’s beauty is made with what you see and what I know. For one thing, Bruce is, obviously, beautiful and he is doing something not so obviously beautiful (what are those rings made of?) — something that looks like a sorcerer’s trick, probably outside his home in Colorado where he had been living the day he walked down a path into a valley and his heart just stopped. Bruce had a rare heart condition, and like so many rare heart conditions, nobody knew — nobody I knew, anyway — exactly what it was, what it was doing to his body, how long it would mean he would live. Still, I think Bruce knew he could go at any time, and if it was anywhere close to the time that this picture was taken, I would say that he lived a charmed life. Like many charmed lives, it was very short, and in retrospect, necessarily emblematic.
Bruce died the same year my brother died — only a few months apart, actually, in 2002. And even though Bruce was straight and my brother, Kevin, was for the most part, gay, they would probably each say that they were in love with each other. Of course that love must have been — at least in part — fueled by the fact that both of them knew they would probably never have sex and I think that probably both of them lived in that incredibly charged erotic space that separates two people who want each other but won’t step out of the force field of their own making. Even when one is willing (Kevin), the field is sealed by the one who isn’t (Bruce). So I was surprised in Chicago, recently, when one of Bruce’s ex-girlfriends — also a good friend of Kevin’s — told me that Bruce told her once that he should have had sex with my brother. Because he loved him. Because it would have meant so much to Kevin. And now they’re both dead sweethearts and only Bruce had the grief of Kevin’s death and only Kevin died without ever knowing that Bruce should have had sex with him.