Under J. M. Barrie’s Wings: The Death of Michael Llewelyn Davies

We had known each other for years, Rupert.

And something had been lit afire,

Something that found no expression, no protection, no liberation.

As ancient as the form of man and yet punishable, unlawful, deformed.


My heart is going through my dead body, my old memories,

I might be drowsy, let me speak nevertheless.

I remember the lake, Rupert, the horrifying stillness, treacherous.

Grey nebulous ghosts falter around it and I can’t see it clearly, no more,


We died there.

Did we make it sacrosanct?

Did we speak about it in hushed togetherness, unseen?

Did you jump in to save my life condemned by an outcast, outlawed sexuality?


Was it me who wanted out? Escape the tedious harshness of life?

Or was it you? Did we even have a plan? Did you hold your breath?

How to make it out of here alive?

Out of this love that gets us both dehumanised?


I might be wrong,

But a crescendo of love comes up to me.

Or did we both give in to the pain-relieving accident?

Rupert, since that day, I haven’t seen you.


We died and our bodies were found

Clasped together – and yet you’re gone

And I’m gone, we have disappeared,

But our bodies, I think about our bodies, Rupert.


We held on to one another, (did we not?)

And there must have been a reason that they did not release themselves

From the lovers’ grasp.

Could we not persist in neither of the worlds?


How has our love offended?

Where did it go wrong?

Why are we denied what makes our heart beat?

We knew, Rupert, how life-threatening that


Sandford Pool was; why did we go in?

Why did we put our bodies into it?

My fear of water made me a swimmer at risk,

You knew how to swim, and yet the liquid element devoured us both, unseparated on earth.


I am, again, a lonely boy, twisted in the shadows

Of an isolated cold wet world that nobody can fathom, or see,

And I think of thee, J. M. Barrie, the never-ending boy,

When you said that my death was in a way the end of you. And all of me.


“J. M. Barrie (as Hook) and Michael (as Peter Pan) on the lawn at Rustington, August 1906” probably photographed by Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (1866-1910)



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s