In the mornings, I’d loiter outside your house, shivering in the cold mist, breathing out your name & waiting for you to fill it. You’d blink and stutter in the new light, stretch and yawn as morning gold washed over the loam of your skin. ‘What now?’ you’d say and we’d begin the day, two small boys without a plan, absent of reason but full of need, a wordless urgency that ran the length of our sleepy street. I never answered, would shrug and let the day respond as we marched down a rock-strewn road that muttered with each step, scatting to the beat of every tyre treading over it. Drawn down to the loadstone creek – brown, barely burbling, but full of tadpoles and tiny frogs to snatch at, we echoed the soft throbbing of their croaking. Losing ourselves in the steep trenches, we left it each time a little less tame, naturalised, shaggy with weeds, brambles, the occasional thorn and cobweb. Some days you came out of the house crackling with storming boyhood, furious without cause, snapping at every leaf and branch and stone – why are we here, why do this now? Small wonder I never knew what to say, cupped wriggling worms in a small pool of wet mud to distract you instead, to lead away from your bruises, the screaming matches everyone heard but chose to ignore, knowing our own houses were tinderboxes and the roar of their flaming would come sure as the sun. Some days I’d be the one requiring silence and the wonder of some thing in the mud or stuck beneath the weight of a boulder or carried off on a tide of industrious bull ants. All we had was each other, a mirrored heat simmering in summer. Do you remember any of this? Do you recall the way we grew into each other? The days we followed the older boys to the water tower, a bloated toad of rusting metal on the hill, and watched them climb to the top, tatters of porn clutched in hand? You scrabbled after them once, and I could only watch, cemented to the ground as you ascended. That was always your specialty: every day you built anew the wings burned and beaten off your back, a phoenix Icarus always able to rise again. My own body remains flightless. Sometimes I dream though of watching you drift into riotous clouds and feel again the joy of those formless days. Only now am I unpicking this quiver of questions, a feathered wilderness. You came down from the sky changed somehow older & wiser & immeasurably distant – whole worlds lay between our almost-touching fingertips as we walked home. Every morning since, the road connecting our houses has been empty of us, its music reserved for other boys.