This is a short allegorical piece I wrote for a creative writing competition earlier this year, the directive theme being “Grief and Hope”. I didn’t place in the competition, however I really enjoyed the writing process and, after some further editing, I’m really pleased with the result.

The concept is something that I had been pondering for some time – what would the Bible book, Song of Solomon, read like if it were written from a celibate, gay perspective?

Now, this is hardly meant to sound like a chapter of the Bible, it is absolutely a personal and expressive piece. I’m not trying to preach well articulated ideas; it’s more emotive than it is instructive. This is easily the most intimate thing I’ve offered to my readers.

As a Christian, I believe that the human experiences of desire, beauty and sexuality point us to things higher than themselves.

This piece, I hope, provides a glimpse into how I (and others like me) continue to experience sexuality even outside of sexual activity.

I wake to no alarm. Outside, cold is setting frost to the grass, inching its way through the air and into the sheets.

You’re still asleep.
My mind settles on your body. Your chest rises and falls. I will it to expand upon every exhalation.

Sleep is easy for you.

Right now, you exist as a simple fact; you ask no question and provide no answer, yet with every phrase and punctuation of your breath, life communicates itself: warm and gentle, dangerous and real, innocent and menacing, unconscious but consequential.

Your body is a borderline.
Every bone, every curve of muscle on every limb is a demarcation dividing our region from where the map drops off at the edge of the bed.

During the night, we pulled on and shifted the sheets with our movement.
Two countries, familiar but alien, heating the planet, disturbing the ocean, forming waves to reach out and touch the neighbouring coast.

You’re animated in your own right.
You exist outside of my intention.
Strange and unexpected, you move your hands over my skin.
Holy and other, fog hides you while you continue to be beyond me.

My thoughts of you, a roiling river beneath my soil – joy and fear, contentment and unsatiated hunger.

I want to bridge our shores and walk in your vibrant land.
Full of yearning I reach out to touch you, to wake the sleeping isle, to see the landscape move, to greet its inhabitants.

My hand touches cold, unoccupied sea, waking me to reality.

I know I can’t cross the distance between us. No one can stretch their hand into fantasy and pull desire into actuality, no matter how persistent the ache.

My fingers circle the space where I want to find skin and hair. I caress my sweet phantom pain, drawing him into me.

I house him in some secret room in the far recesses of myself

I get out of bed. I shower.

It’s easy to think, in the light of day, distracted and clothed, that I have washed my companion away in the warm water, but always he resides in his cloister.

Often, I go to him: to enjoy his illusory comforts, to fill what can’t be made full, to grieve his absence. I meet him there to remind myself that, though he is verdant and strong, he will grow old and die.

A fire will burn him to the ground. Something real and enduring will take his place.

His death will fertilise the soil from which my evergreen will grow.

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