Do not think that his perfection makes me content. No, I always wanted to undo and footnote him.
When he was thirteen he lived mostly alone in a house with his father and five others. He missed out on some mothering then. He floated his voice with notes and sound, and his smile in the company of others reassured, made them forget. He didn't wash his clothes, or change his sheets in a year. But his bones reached so cleanly, so sweetly from his skin, that no one noticed the dirt.
He liked to trail his hand along the semi-peeled rose trellis wallpaper in the hall. It was dry, and he moved lightly like the man I later saw. A boy who walked down halls, the man who walked a savannah,
the old man whose legs are creaking now.
Finally a woman staying noticed his toothbrush. The bristles had curled outwards and down, flattened by a strong wind/tide/so much brushing. It wouldn't dislodge tartar anymore, just skate across it.
Mothers often forget to tell you these things, or, are simply no longer present. I didn't know about 'uplift' until some assistant in a draper's undressed me and informed me that it was too late. I brushed my teeth very swiftly from side to side—not up and down—and only on the odd occasion: when I remembered. My father's toothbrush would have hailed Robert's as a brother.
By the time I met him we were both missing our fathers, wearing earplugs at night to shut out the noises of a new country. He wore his father's brown suede jacket most times I saw him, and his shirt cuffs bore those urban maps; coffee stains. I imagined those cuffs ending right there, leaving his arms unsleeved, and his mind untampered with.