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This intimate proximity

Peter Evans and Brian Doyle |  09 April 2017


Selected poems



Yes, you did follow him

Into the palace courtyard.

You had boldly vowed

To follow him to the end.

Now you are there.

They are torturing him within

As you sit with the guards without,

Outside in that damned courtyard

And wait ...

By the dying fire.

'What am I doing here?'

You ask yourself,

Uneasy and lonely

In the dark glow.

'But at least I am here.'

You tell yourself.

Suddenly, knifelike, someone shouts:

'Hey! You too were with the Nazerene!'

The finger of the high priest's servant

Jabs ever so sharply.

And in your heart at least

You desperately shrink towards the gate.

'I don't know what you are talking about.'

And you flee instead into the shadows

Of denial.

It doesn't work of course.

They are on to you.

You are cornered.

The come at you again.

And you deny again — a second time,

This time with an oath.

Then you deny him once more.

Oh so strangely that fateful third time.

The hideous crackle of the rooster's crow

Cuts the still of the Friday dawn

And with that

You weep an inconsolable weep

That now echoes through the ages.

Why, Peter? Why?

You can only ask.


In a different imperial courtyard

In another time

Another Peter

Another denial

And another why.

Peter Evans



This intimate proximity

I was in an old wooden church the other day when I met

A young man aged four or so who was cradling a plastic

Green guitar. Seldom do you see a soft guitar all folded

And bent and flopped such that for a moment I thought

Maybe it had melted. He bent over it with such affection

That you could tell he and the guitar were real close and

Certainly spent lots of time in just this intimate proximity.

Casually I asked him if I could strum it for a moment and

He said quietly and seriously, No. I asked him later about

The guitar and where he'd found it and how long they had

Been together and we chatted about guitars for a while and

Then he said so quietly that he was almost whispering I did

Not know if you would hold him right. I said I understood

Completely, and how generous it was of him to explain his

Feelings so straight out and honest and genuine, and then it

Was time for him to carve a pumpkin and we parted. But this

Morning I remain moved not just by his open honesty but by

His tenderness for his friend. Would that we all were just so.

Brian Doyle


Peter EvansPeter Evans is an Australian living in France.

Brian DoyleBrian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, a longtime contributor to Eureka Street, and the author of the essay collection Grace Notes.


Peter Evans and Brian Doyle


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Submitted comments

Two poems to contemplate during Holy Week, thanks to both poets.

Pam 10 April 2017

Thank you Brian. Had a heart weep.

GAJ 11 April 2017

If "This intimate proximity" is poetry what ever happened to prose?

john frawley 11 April 2017

j'e suis Pierre! I had a cry......

Michael Furtado 11 April 2017

Well, John, you couldn't possibly call it prosaic so it must be poetic. 'nuff said.

ErikH 11 April 2017

Thank you both for these rich reflections this Holy Week. And I think it is welcome back Brian, hopefully restored to health. Yes, I love the way my 3 year old grand daughter will so boldly say no to my inept requests; and it's worth the while to in time inquire why. Unless we become as little children.

Denis Quinn 12 April 2017

Thanks for the deeper reflection on Peter's plight but also the touching encounter of a guitar handled so lovingly in contrast to events of Good Friday...twill take me time to digest!

Gordana Martinovich 12 April 2017

Thank you,how true. Blessings

Maria Altenhofen 12 April 2017

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