"Tell them I had a wonderful life"

Ludwig Wittgenstein

      Two months ago I was 
talking to you in the Lithuanian forests : telling you  
how old women from out of Druskininkai were walking 
the blue floors of those stretched oceans with buckets 
			of mushrooms and moss 

     There space is old, trees are tall, memory is pain, 
history is full of partisans and a sufi music conjures all 
of us to whirl where the stalks of the forest barely sway. 
I sensed you there because of the rotting of the music 
	      and I knew you'd care. 

            Your room still is full of photographs 
your realm looked after by trees. You who eschewed all
computer trails have been taken away by a skidding wheel 
by black ice or a seizure of the heart, lifelong discourse 
		        and your daughter's hurt 

  All I can do now is stagger  
round my rooms mewling out your name Max, Max :  
what will happen to language now, now you are not here 
and who is left and how many remain of the anarchists 
      on the ice-floes of speech 

These last weeks I had been
writing you postcards in my head : Max come to Whitechapel. 
Come soon. Come and talk. Come and walk. Where are you ? 
Why did you ? : but this has become an explosion of words 
	                         on the scarp of my pain 


We'd talked about walking 
from my village to yours : cutting a section across the Alps 
or a section through a glacier's brain. From Precasaglio 
in the Alta Valcamonica to Wertach in the Allgau. 
		Now I will do that without you. 

     Before we met and surely ever since
we've been talking to each other. And even when the other 
was not there we'd carry on in monologues to hear. I shall  
go on talking to you for as long as my mouth can speak :  
		     or what is the point of language  

			      From where did I come  
to this scarred field : you first heard my voice in your car, 
you last lost your own voice there : what silence in the water, 
what bird-smoke, what rough circle in our language has  
         	      brought us back to here ? 

	     Dear friend, what is the use of speech : 
I now asking of you questions you can no longer reach - 
yet as you drift off to the snow-hole of your hills I hear 
you say "they are ever returning to us, the dead" -  
		        Max, I am listening ...  

17th/19th December 2001 (& early January 2002)