I am in Dunnes Stores
thumbing through a rack of wetsuits
trying to find an age-4 for your son.
You are in a rented room in Delhi
smoking and making notes for your latest film.
I am always stuck in Dunnes Stores
trying to find the right wetsuit.
You are always alone in a narrow room,
smoking and making notes.
Your heart is failing but you still don’t know it.
It’s hard to breathe—for me, as well as for you.
Sometimes I wish I could stop loving you.
I am sitting up in bed,
the cover is black and white stripes.
There are two windows to the room.
In front of me lies the inlet
and a big lump of raw-boned hillside
crowned with soft soggy cloud.
The window beside the bed
frames sky and thin coloured sands
woven with marram grass.
I am thinking of the drawer I opened in my mother’s study,
the hundreds of your photos that I found there
from that first India trip.
I dipped Thomas into the waves.
He liked being dipped, he slapped at the water and splashed.
He’s one year old and one month.
You’ve been dead for just seven months.
When I was fifteen I dipped you into the waves.
When I saw the Sydney Nolan picture
of Ned Kelly’s sister quilting his black helmet
I knew that’s what I’d always tried to do.
A useless love-filled gesture,
the failure of the gesture,
the blood on the blue quilting,
the blood on your face in the morgue.
If it hadn’t been India
it would have been somewhere else.
Perhaps I’m glad it was India.
Perhaps I’m glad that your window
opened onto the market.
And over the road, the pigeons,
soft coloured rows in their boxes,
talking in low tumbling voices
drowned out by the roar from the street.
Did you drown in India?
There was the photo of the Ganges,
the liquid light floating the evening water,
the way you broke it as you raised your hand to wave,
the time that you went swimming from the ghats.
This poem is addressed to the artist Paddy Jolley, who died in New Delhi in 2012.