do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

‘You don’t seem to understand, sir,’ the worthy Lyon, my teacher, used to often say to me, ‘that certain words are made to go with others; between them there exist certain relationships that must not be changed.’

‘I can’t help it, dear teacher, but for words too I am a firm believer in the virtue of bad company.’

André Gide, 1911

Under the surface of the conversation lives another set of words, ur-homonyms, post post modern, the secret referential dialect of poetry birds, blue and gray, alike in species, but not in feather, the language an echo of captured ghosts. We are eye contact, insinuation, the rhythm and flow of a secret river covered over. He fiddles with his phone, pulls up a memory, a beautiful mention of jewelry and bones, and unobtrusively places it on my side of the table, the better to keep it between ourselves, the better not to interrupt. It is the best sort of message – silent, apt, instantly understood – spun from the fearless perfection of falling stars. It was confirmation of an unlikely truth, a gesture clear and unmistakable, almost but not quite an apology. We had thought ourselves as solid as stone, but then we crumbled like plaster under rain, our gestures blurred, our voices unheard and stolen by a sudden, dangerous misunderstanding. It was terrible, ragged and abrupt. We became a fire guttering, giving off no warmth and even less light, but this, I thought, looking up to meet his meaning, and its depths, it justifies what came before, this is why I thought it was safe, and why I will again.