(A quick note — if you haven’t read the comments from Avant-Garde in Beaufort, make sure you check them out. My sisters-by-Byrne have the whole scoop on that wild party and the woman who threw it.)
Since so many of you loved seeing the footage of Byrne’s love, Duncan Miller, at the Beaufort 3 Century forum, I thought I’d share an idea to honor him. I never knew Duncan well. He was sliding down the slope of Alzheimer’s when I met him and I remember him mostly through the stories Byrne told. Theirs is still the best love story I have ever known. Married twice, once in secret, devoted to each other for 60 years, him watching her get dressed each day of those 60 years and telling her she was marvelous.
Byrne had very few regrets in life, but the one she shared with me is one that I hope I can erase. Duncan was a writer. A dedicated writer. One who completed six full-length novels without the reinforcing, confidence boost of publication. He kept at it, rejection after rejection. Byrne was his believer. She typed every manuscript (before computers) and every query letter to agents and publishers. She kept those manuscripts for years after his death. She felt she’d failed him – by not getting him published.
So here’s my idea. With the help of a few of my siblings-by-Byrne, and the Otram Slabess poetry group, I culled through some of Duncan’s manuscripts and pulled, from them, an assemblage. The common thread through six novels. It’s how I’ve ended my memoir. If an editor out there likes the manuscript, then Byrne would say “Duncan darling, at last you are published.”
And so, here is Duncan’s love for Byrne, drawn from lines the world rejected.
I’m hanging with my fingertips on the lip of a big idea.
I must grab hold of the earth,
or be swept away through an endless sky.
The air is so still that summer scents lie coiled close to the ground.
The palm fronds splinter and tree toads cry.
The night sobs for me.
My mind returns to those moments when I first began to know you.
Seeing through your eyes,
dancing on the edge of dreams.
I was a river coursing through your soft green banks.
We love each other for the sum of what we are.
Implicit with movement, even in repose.