crimson Japanese maple leaves

Life changes after death. It becomes less about what you do than what you notice; and after you died it was the tiniest things which sustained me.

It was a sudden fall – within days of your death there were leaves on the ground – and out walking I’d find myself rescued by a bright glimpse of colour. I found consolation in all the hues but solace specifically in red, as if it matched something in me, as you did. I became obsessed by the search for the perfect crimson, spending wet mornings on my knees, wrist-deep in the fallen foliage, scouring and scrutinising, desperately prospecting for a silent, scarlet resolution.

I don’t know if it was the intensity of red that soothed me or its tenderness but it seemed to me then that everything came back to this primary, this primal colour. It’s the colour of beginnings – our bloody animal births and the red tips and tinges of vegetation at the beginning of spring. And it’s the colour of glad ends – the rich wooded flame of autumn, the dusty suffusion of sunset. Seasonal and diurnal alteration. It’s the colour of change, the colour of vivacity, the colour of you.

Red became you. A “red-headed angel”, someone once called you, and you were: red-headed, red-hearted, red-blooded, red-tongued – and red-threaded, as I now am, dressing myself up in vermilion plumage to write to you. Even now – months after your death – the colour comforts and condenses me. Perhaps the writing does too. After all, we both found solace in writing – in delving down, in pulling up, in drawing the truth to the surface and inscribing it there: the live line, the pulsing current. We wrote to keep it going, to give ourselves something to hold onto – until yours broke – a red line of continuity, a red thread of faith.

Bryngarw Country Park, South Wales / Montréal, Québec, Canada
15th November 2013 / Autumn 2004