Dear Keri Hulme,

May 21st, 2016 § 0 comments

I knew Simon P. Gillayley. I knew him in my bones before I ever set foot in your book. I knew the words, I knew the homes, I knew the sea.

Sixty pages to go and I am already in mourning. Even if this were the first reading, I know what’s coming. The book itself is finite, characters confined to a wordcount, the binding taped backed together, the final blank page.

Your book said what I mean. It’s a mirror, reflecting all of my fragments back at me as a whole. It’s a window, making playthings of the outside. It is my wildest imagination worked and weaved by the hands of a truly skilled master.

Kerewin Holmes. Keri Hulme. All of you that you poured into this book became the seawater I drink. And now comes the thirst. The book is a vessel, not a faucet.

I write bad poetry, trying to wriggle out of this feeling. Of simultaneous loss and gain. Of a story that is only a wave—here, reaching, reaching—and then, receded, gone.

Of the ache I hold in being a witness.

I sleep with the book underneath my pillow, asking to meet it in the shadowspace of my mind, the screen on which my impossible desires can play out.

And if the impossible could—might—? I would dissolve myself into the three of them: Simon, Joe, Kerewin. Bind myself inextricably through them. The truth they tell is far greater than the one I can hope to live in.

There’s the wound. (I knew we’d find it.)

To be opened wide and left like that.

And I’m reminded of my first reading of the bone people. For the next year, everything I created was an attempt to sink the story into my life. To give Simon P. Gillayley substance off of the page.

In 2008, here are the words I found:


Simon is
                   quaking pennies upon train tracks
And us is rattling bones by the word,
Raptured, among the cold and electric.

Us is meeting the edge,
                    staring down a rushing freedom
And a life of mornings.


Simon P. Gillayley
I think I know what Jesus feels like

When I realized your character was known
Like meaning before language tied it up
Your silence roused something regrown in me
Words easing and blooming around thorns.

It is when your heart presses
Against the membrane of belief
That fills the chambers with what feels like blood
But I think it might be love.

2016. And the words I have are just these:

Once again, I’m opened wide and left like that.


Ever gratefully,
Your reader.



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