For Barry

In the quiet moments, I think of you.

On a yoga mat,

looking at the sky.

In a park with blossoms,

and a saxophone playing.


We were the same age,

for 45 weeks of the year.

Except for the seven when you were older,

I could never catch up, you said.

Until I did.


Today, I am 45.

Years, now, we’re talking – not weeks, anymore.

What would you make of 45?

We’ll never know.

But together we both got to know 4.

And 5.

And 6.

And all those years up until the ruptures of adulthood stopped us knowing.

Or, at least, knowing enough.


The last time I saw you –

I think it was the last –

was nine years ago.

We were 36.

I had a book published.

You were wearing a suit.

You said you were proud of me

– in all the crowded words of that night I remember what you said.

I remember feeling it,

I remember meaning it

– really meaning it –

when I said I wanted us to meet up.

And I think you did too.


I moved.

New York, Wicklow,

we had Facebook versions of each other’s lives.

I had to ask for your email for the wedding invitation.

I still don’t know if you would have come.

Your last post

– the one you didn’t know would be your last –

was so full

of hope,

of life,

of all things you.


On a day like today,

I can feel old.

On a day like today I can compare

the smile the young student gets

from the guy behind the counter

in the bagel shop

to the one I get,

or imagine I don’t.


On a day like Sunday, doing a race

in Central Park,

I can find myself racing against

younger versions of me,

trying to beat my 20-something, my

30-something self,

before I remember that I am lucky

to be racing at all.

Before I remember, that I am running this race

now, for us both.


You explored the landscape of a number before I got there,

seven weeks of being 10,

when I was still only 9.

You would always be older,

that’s what you said,

I stole your line

and used it in a book.

I guess we never thought about this other possibility.


So today,

on this birthday,

my birthday,

I am sharing it with you –

enjoying it for both of us,

savouring it

for both of us.

I’ll keep counting,

I’ll report back,

I’ll let you know about 45 –

it’s good so far –

And I’ll keep loving,


I’ll love enough,

and live enough

for us both.

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