Up against this wall
Or right here in this car
Or anywhere at all
Or anywhere we are
When the ship went down and Ray drowned, Ray’s world became ruled by water and sand; when the ship went down and Fraser couldn’t save Ray, Fraser’s world became dominated by smoke and ashes.
There comes a night when Fraser drives Ray’s GTO -- Fraser’s GTO now – to the lake they call Michigan. He parks the car and then walks out along the breakwater wall. Ray isn’t there – and then he is – out near the end of the breakwater, waiting for Fraser.
Lay your body down
Down upon these stones
This beach has grown cold, my love
Ray looks so alive. He feels so alive, hugging Fraser. His familiar cheeky smile for Fraser is so warm -- and his body feels so cold. His body feels as cold to Fraser as the breakwater stones on which Fraser yearns to lie down with him. The poet Roethke comes to Fraser’s mind, the poem that starts with “I think the dead are tender. Shall we kiss?”
I'm so sick of crying
This wound that never heals
Tell me 'bout this lightning, my love
Lightning flashes over the lake, and for a moment Fraser looks towards the water. He has been sick with the fever of this unhealed wound, felt the hot tears of that sickness burning his eyes. The cold lake would offer atonement if Fraser were to join Ray there.
Tell me you don't love me
Tell me I don't feel
We know it can't strike twice
“Fraser, can you tell me you don’t love me? Can you tell me the dead don’t have feelings? If you want it to end here, tell me you don’t love me.”
“You know I can’t do that, Ray.”
“Yeah, I know. You never lie.”
“And I failed you, Ray….”
“Nah, you don’t need to feel that way…it’s just I got somewhere ahead of you for a change.” They both laugh a little at that, Ray’s laugh entirely good-natured and Fraser’s laugh rueful.
Lightning flashes over the lake again, and the look they give each other says they both know they were struck by each other’s lightning right at the start, and a strike like that doesn’t happen more than once.
If you ask me, I will tumble
I'll fall down on my knees
But I will meet you at the altar, baby
And kiss you...
Kiss you 'til you weep
Fraser runs his fingers through the blond lake-damp spikes of Ray’s hair. Ray says, “I wanted another chance to do this,” and kisses him. Fraser breathes and breathes into the kiss; Ray responds with kisses that are literally breathless, until Fraser feels himself to be the drowned man. Then Ray asks “So…what? We still partners?” and Fraser sinks to his knees, murmuring “If you’ll have me.” Ray follows him down, lake-water tears in his eyes.
Fraser is thinking of Roethke’s final stanza: “I feel his presence in the common day, in that slow dark that widens every eye. He moves as water moves, and comes to me, stayed by what was, and pulled by what would be.”
The cold lake offers atonement to Fraser. Now it won’t be the cold of loss…it will be the welcome cold of home.