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In Memoriam Stephen John Eyers, 1943–2016

To say it briefly, my best friend has died.
And I have no defence, no refuge from the fact,
except that, this side of the great divide,
my portion of our love is still intact.

Socialist in politics and humanist in faith,
he ‘dwelt in possibility’, so that his mind
perceived in history’s best moments pointers,
not anomalies, despite their brevity:
Winstanley’s Commonwealth, the Communards,
the days of Barcelona ’36 or Britain ’45
were bold illuminations of the good society
on which he fixed his stubborn, hopeful eye.

We were two Hampshire boys, lapsed Protestants,
both gaily on the run from all that nonsense:
sin, guilt, sexual shame — the whole bang-shoot of lies.
A true adherent of ‘the mystery of things’,
he saw the sacramental in the ordinary.
He lived as if our purpose here is joy.

He was a teacher for whom ‘teach’ and ‘learn’ are synonyms.

The passing months do nothing but lay bare my loss
and Christmas only plays again the scenes I miss:
our greeting on the phone, a thousand times, if once —
my ‘Stevie!’, his ‘Hello, dear boy!’ — call and response;
David and Jonathan, our frank, unshaven hug.
He lies in earth in Surrey, where the Diggers dug.

Audio file

Listen to this poem — read by the author