This room isn’t mine yet

Dearest McCrorys,
I’m ashamed it was procrastination,
Never lack of thought of you,
That kept me from writing.
Bangor’s such a bourgeois place- sterile-
Here, every day is Sunday and
I’m not ready for metaphysics.
I can’t even teach here,
The piano is a little “modern” model and very inferior.
So, I’m still back to Belfast three days a week
to teach at my mother’s.
This room isn’t mine yet,
I can’t seem to settle on one seat or one view.

I should’ve begun by saying that my September song
shall remain unsung this year,
But perhaps that would have been too dramatic an opening.
Rebecca had a miscarriage, about two months ago.
With a little trouble I could tell you the exact date-
It happened two days after we saw ‘So Close to Life.’
Lucky it didn’t happen there and then.
The film was ghastly.
She recovered, physically, in a few days.
I had no feeling about it,
Apart from her well-being.
Should I have?

News of Gabe is a little difficult.
From September last until two weeks ago
he hadn’t had a drink.
He was stuck, though, in the familiar pattern
of excessive work.
Sublimation!
In the shop all day then over to Manor St.
for nightly inspections, desperately trying to keep it alive
After the bungling and fiddling of its corrupt staff.
And he’s having Baltic St. painted again…
He should get as far as possible away from the whole thing
But it’s no use telling him so.
Until two weeks ago…
He arrived here a two bottle man- whisky/vodka-
At half eight on a Monday morning.
He was incomprehensible Monday through Tuesday.
As usual there was a lot of talk of ten feet tall men.
I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t all some erotic vision.
Wednesday was sober.
He came into town with me, I to teach, he to work.

On the days I don’t teach, I find myself almost unable to leave this house.
It leaves me vulnerable to all sorts of things.
The proximity of Rebecca’s father’s shop
means he’s forever coming round.
He’s a very quiet man but not shy-
“Country” I suppose he’d be called in Belfast.
It started with that Michaelmas goose I told you about.
Special occasions would be tolerable
But now it’s pork chops on a Tuesday afternoon
Or veal cutlets at seven on a Saturday morning.
When Rebecca is here one finds a way of dealing with it
But often it’s just the two of us,
With some expensive cut, wrapped in paper,
Sitting between us.
It wouldn’t be so bad but that I’ve lost my appetite.
I’m living a very temperate life now.
All my food seems to be boiled and no drinks, no?
Well, what else can I give up when all else has been forfeited?
Besides, I don’t see another way of drying up this ulcer,
If that indeed is what this is.

Rebecca, too, seems to have started to shower –
Or should I say pepper? –
Me with gifts.
It started with a pair of loafers –
I was polite about them, but
Have you ever seen me wear a pair in my life?
I wasn’t sure why she thought I’d start now.
I’m still not.
And now waistcoats, expensive ones, too.
One is silk-backed with some
rather sharp fangs dropping from the front.
It’s difficult to know what to say.
When I get in after teaching,
I seem to always find myself reaching
for that robe Gabe bought me all those years ago,
That and a hot-water bottle seem to be
All I have the stomach for.

I’m terribly sorry McCrory, but I can’t seem to find “LOVING” anywhere.
I’m still living between two places, I suppose.
I preferred it infinitely to “CAUGHT”
Which struck me as written while Green was
still recovering from his bad war.
Well, I’ve got cramp, that’s how ill-practised a hand I’ve become.
Wondrous love to you all-

B.

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