an original poem

by Elissa Myers / Garnet & Black

Dedicated to David Selves, aged 12, who died off Woolich supporting his drowning playfellow and sank with him clasped in his arms on September 12th, 1896.

what is it to be known 

       to have someone stretch their trembling limbs around your heart

running before the fall


the boy turns for his other

       his arms, his limbs, his heart

lips locked moments before

tumbling through trees sworn to secrecy

entrusting the forest, gleefully sliding upon the ice

their eyes turned to the feather-dotted sky, birds singing their 

       songs of indifference

one’s sigh invoked a symphony to swell in the other

arching their necks to look up, heat flaring in cheeks and arms

the anticipation of palms running down each other’s chests

       the boy’s heartbeat, beat, beat, beat


it was quiet, the split

a low rumble, like the gurgle in his father’s throat

before the bloom of bruises

silence swallowing his song 


the boy didn’t hear the scream

he didn’t think, didn’t breathe, only moved

all inhibition knotted as shivers danced up his spine

       his arms, his limbs, his heart

flailing in the waters

at the edge of the slice, the boy inhaled

and then he heard his name

       david, david, david

electricity bloomed across skin freshly stroked red

he bit his tongue, suffocating a wail

mind running to prayers long ago buried

       fear cleaning locks to doors rusted from negligence 

the boy didn’t speak, only wrapped his trembling arms around 

the small body of his lover

pressing his blueing lips to skin coated in gooseflesh

       he did not flail, he did not swim

tension fleeing from his bones

the boy now pulls his love against his chest

praying for the trees to release their secret

       tear apart the signed contract

to signal from every branch for a soul to stumble

into their frozen embrace

the boy feels muscles sag above him

and runs his fingers down the limp arms 

of the boy he loves

steadying his eyes on what is here, what is now

shedding everything but his heart

       still beating, still loving

water bites at his gut, his chest, his hands that refuse

to cease stroking a rigid chest

until the cold flees altogether, fingers pausing 

upon the edge of a rib

and the boys feel nothing at all