Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It Was Like Black Rain

You did it again, like you always do. After last night.

There was a time when you were the coolest. How so old I seem now, even to me. You’re mortal now and you need me everyday more than I need you. The balance has shitted. I never made your mistakes and it’s not because you ever told me look at my life and learn. I just never did because in the end I have a grittiness you call ruthlessness. It isn’t that. Not to me. But we argue about this, when I can still summon up the energy to bother arguing with you because I know how all this will end; you teary, fists bunched, impotent, quivering, the little smile on my lips maddening you more than that secret addiction only I know you have. I know all your weaknesses and I do not possess any of them. Maybe that is what makes you hate me so much?

That grieves me, though I have never told you, that you hate me. Because I love you still, in my own fashion that I know you will never understand. No one understands it here. But I have come to accept that loneliness is not so bad, when I have a few things, know that I’m lonely and there is a bar on Jinja road with a view of Kampala that takes my breath away. I love you still. You were once the coolest, gave me a dream that begun the dreams. I was just a kid, you were a man. Why should you have paid any attention to me? But you gave me those Saturdays, when you needed an alibi, taking me to town, on Saturday afternoons when I was going to be propped in the couch, with sightless eyes, trying to watch afternoon TV and in those days Batman had stopped coming on TV, SuperBook was no longer on the TV schedule, I did not have the money for Saturday coaching classes though when I could no longer go, how I wanted now to go!

That’s when you would come for me, to “borrow” me, your alibi with “eyes girls can trust.” Well. I gained, though you ruined me. I gained those Saturdays and when I would be reading Maupassant many Saturday mornings, rain trapped in sitting rooms of many houses, many years from the years when you were gone from my life to your own damnation, I would be remembering you. Remembering those Saturday afternoons you gave me, when I was still a kid, thought you the coolest, and you showed me that a Kampala street on a Saturday afternoon, nearly deserted, just outside your office, could more festive than any Mardi Gras; 26, a good job, a car, friends with money and girls who liked cars and beach parties, dressed to strip, driving with tops down, for out of town escapades and tales of smoked fish that would last you a lifetime and I stood holding the bag of groceries and taxi fare back, a kid, a boy, watching, how you were the coolest!

I will never listen to Teddy Pendergrass or hear Dave Koz without thinking of you. I will never stand on beaches, on strange nights that made me think I know what summer nights must be like in towns and countries you will never go to, without thinking of you and the life you made want to live, wondering, what were you thinking when you would get up, leave your friends and their hands in each other’s shorts and bras, to walk to the water’s edge and be alone. Poetry comes to me when I think this but I know you. You were playing the poet to make the girl you had come with think you were more sensitive than the openly lustful friends her friends were gladly giving themselves over to, the beer and the fish and the rooms booked going to their heads, playing her playing the idea she wanted to believe she had found in you. Maybe this is why you hate me so much. I know you. I know you too well. But you gave me those Saturday afternoons and I can never hate you, despise you or look down on you, much as you think I do. I’m not you, never wanted to be you, could never be you, did not try to be you, but one time when I was a kid, a boy really, I thought you were the coolest. Somewhere in my mind, when you think all you were is gone, you’re still the coolest.

Just Rich: the Prose
Just Rich: the Poetry.