In Memory: Charles Stephen Hughes

www.charlesstephenhughes.com

 

 

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From Particles and Disputations: Writings for Jeff, a book of hours

 

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From Particles and Disputations is a collection of literary artifacts in the form of creative writings from a twelve year period in my life with which the reader engages to construct a memoir, a love story with a sad but transcendent ending. 

Starting with our meeting in 1982, I had marked each birthday, anniversary, holiday, and other special or difficult occasion we shared with a piece of writing – sometimes prose, sometimes poetry, sometimes playful, sometimes philosophical, sometimes joyous, sometimes anguished – each one chronicling and reflecting upon the event. These were intimate writings composed solely for the purpose of expressing myself to one other person.

I’m hoping this collection of the writings I did for and about Jeff will now communicate to a more public audience the story of our lives together, will convey how we grew as a couple, and how through our joys and our struggles we realized an abiding spirit of strength and peace in our relationship.

Beyond sharing a poignant personal history from the beginning era of the AIDS epidemic, a time of acute crisis before medicines began to offer much hope, I believe these writings also have something important to add to a much needed conversation in our present society about what constitutes morality.  I believe that morality is the process of establishing, protecting, and enriching the trustworthiness of our relationships with ourselves, our sense of deity, and the world in which we live.  For many of us, the first fully adult realization of our morality finds its expression is in our relationship with a mate.  The trust we give to another individual to share and protect our person and our property, those most basic aspects of our being, is what renders these relationships sacred and worthy of recognition.  

 

Selections:

 

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Perhaps

Perhaps the valentine I send you should be of highly polished wood, an object of calm, gentle strength, warm to the touch, full of life-enriched beauty, because that would be very much like you.

Or perhaps I should send you the sky, across whose expanse an infinite and often incongruous variety of clouds drift, because that, too, would be like you, and sometimes you storm.

Perhaps my valentine for you should be a bright yellow daffodil, because that is how you like to see yourself, and how I like to see you too, especially on leisurely, sunlit mornings.

Or perhaps I should send you – hmmmmm, cozy autumnal snuggles wrapped in flickering firelight; a big, shiny red apple for my favorite teacher; a meandering river of conversation for my closest friend; an endless moment of passionate embrace for my lover; a book of memories for our future.

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Hide and Seek

You will not always find me in our hide-and-seek, not when I am the seeker and look for you in lonely corners only to discover other hidden things.  I do not mean to lose you, but if I did not sometimes lose myself, how would I find anything?  There’s a vagabond’s soul within this homebody with whom you’ve mated, a soul that does not always recall the most expeditious path home, and that is why sometimes I am lonely, even in your arms.

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Elements

To hear what is, touch context, sense the particular to which we relate, these particular sensations which constitute our life.  Our strength is in our holding, our ability to hold together the elements of our love:  concern, patience, boredom, charity, security, safety, frustration, passion, fantasy, self-denial, comfort, exhaustion, yearning, protection, loneliness, hope, optimism, disappointment, definition, humor, daring, communication, excitement, mutuality, exploration.  Touch and we embrace wholly our history in moments pressed, pressed in tangletongue lips, we kiss.

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DecemberSun #6 – Sweet My Love Rest

Sweet my love rest this holiday day comes a soothing relief, pause – the weary across our brows comes peace, peace.  Glitter our champagne gifts in open exchange our love, memories, regrets and expectations are cuddled and dismissed, laid to rest amid festive wrap the cat plays with amusements of the very gay season most vulnerable, our underbellies exposed wide open up, we assume the sweet, gentle rub, loving tickle, our pleasures prevail on each other’s indulgence.

Come sweet my love relax into this holiday day bathes us with essential good will, each one for the other, that you will have the best life possible for you to have, and that that life will continue intimately connected to my own, that is my own best holiday wish for you, with all my love.

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intercourse

I am words you speak into me your warm breath I would were your arms are words around me; your penetration sears through my pain to understand inside my mind how you might come home to me with your words unprotected, and again I come home to you and again I am unprotected words you speak all around me to know me more intimate of being as we drop our words into the stillness around us sweats this knowing how we have mixed cerebral fluids to sweat our words over each other and again you come to me with your words, which I receive, like love.

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Thirty-eighth Birthday – Recognition

Your features are changed this year, your thirty-eighth, so that now when I look at you I am surprised, yet find I am better able to recognize you – your moods, struggles, successes, ambitions, confusions, needs, sufficiencies, fears, our interdependencies.  In isolation, drawn apart from familiar context, you become more real to me, and I feel more urgently the necessity of us.  My impulse is to reach for you; I want the familiarity, the reassurance of touch.

When I see you ill, as has happened often this year, what I feel is not pity mistaken for love; it’s the recognition of a more serious love between us than I had imagined in my poetry, a love whose proportions are not those of mythic quest or romantic ideal, whose impetus is not its public or private celebration, nor even the banking away of its comfort for future recollection.  Instead it is a quiet, practical matter, like looking around a room to see what needs to be done.