I carry your heart, I carry it. I carry your heart and I want to burn it up. I want to scratch at it, make it bleed, rip it to shreds with my finger nails. I want to reduce it to mincemeat, and, violence once done, carefully burn each shard, set it under a magnifying glass in that hot, July sun and watch it smolder first, then burn, then fire, then explode. Each piece thus disposed, I would find the dust, find the embers and sweep them up. I would gather, each piece like a lost wheat berry, thrown from the thrasher. I would bag them, bag these embers of your heart and I would further diminish them. I would smash them in the collider, until they too were reduced to their component parts, until we found at last the strings and vibrating particles that made up your DNA and we would destroy those too, so you would never return to the universe, never repeat, never plague the world as a tree, a frog, as moss, as stardust. You would be gone, utterly gone, and so erased, I would be free.

Your pulsing, beating heart, hiding in places in my body I can’t always get to. I hate your heart. I hate it, I hate it. I rage against the thumping in my chest that isn’t mine. The extra breath that tightens my rib cage, compressing my own until it becomes smaller and smaller. Get out of my body. Get out of this scared space, this carriage, this housing that moves me safely through the world, boldly through the world. My body belongs to me, it is me. You stormed the gate, burst in, blew it up, and I have spent five years piecing together what I could find and fashioning, through hellfire and sweat and tears, new pieces to replace what was lost. This is not your home. You gave up your earthly dwelling, your temple, your house. You shut the door, choice or no choice, help or no help.  But this home is mine, dearly earned, beautiful and strong and fierce.


A letter to my ex

This is my body. It is warm, and soft. It is strong in the right places, and soft in the right places. It is undefined and defined, swimming and swaying through the world, all purpose and determination. All hips and thighs and breasts and eyes. This is my body, it is strong, and I love it.
This is my one life. This catastrophic and calamitous year, hour, minute, second. It is mine. And in it, I choose without thought, without intention or purpose, to love. Love pours out of me, out of my every breath and heartbeat. I cannot help but love; I cannot help but be interested in you, in them, in passersby, in what they love, what they do, who they are. The choice of love, the movement towards it, this is my daily walk. It gives me direction, focus, action. It is why my community is so large, why I easily make deep, lasting friendships. This love that is my whole being, it is me. It is the best of me, and I am proud of it.
I can be in pain. I can suffer, I can look directly into the eye of the storm and know what came before and what comes next. And yet, I stand, all five foot of me, bearing down on whatever tempest threatens. I am resilience. I feel fear, I live in it sometimes, I worry and wonder, I become anxious and nervous, imagining what worse thing is yet to come. Sometimes I must battle my changed brain for a moment of peace, while my body is shaking.  And yet every time, I have come out on the other side, where my friends are ready to meet me. Where you never were.
Your oar was dropped, and I paddled faster and faster, spinning around, fatigued, grated, desperate. All you had to do was join me, love as I loved, and how big your world would have become. I choose the people in my life because I see how much bright light they carry in them, how they can foster their own light and shine it on those around them. You sheltered yours, it barely glows now. It is a wavering flame, flickering on extinction.
My pain is not my weakness. My fear and worry is not a failure, not a character flaw to be brushed under the rug. I cannot aim towards perfect, no one can. I do not intend to suffer, I try not to. I work, as we all do, to brave the storms of life that will come, no matter what. That you could see me in my worst moments and think, this must change, I cannot bear this- how little capacity you have!
I will not feel shame for my moments of weakness. I will not feel embarrassment or guilt for struggling, like a person sometimes does. I will not feel DEFINED by my hardest moments. I will be defined by the far more frequent moments of triumph, success, love, laughter, joy, adventure, friendship and kindness that move like a strong current through my life. You tried to shove me into a small corner of my life, and I will not stay there. You saw a refracted, sliver of a kaleidoscope version of me, but trust me when I saw I am better whole. I brilliant as a whole, apparently far too bright for you.
This is my body, and I love it. This is my heart, and I love it. This is my mind, and I love it. This is my one brief, brilliant life, and I love it.

Theory 18

It was with unutterable anguish I left my home. A home I had built from swampy, barren earth. Sodden, murky, empty.

Or not quite, but like it. First: empty home, ground-stricken sleep, then bed then couch then the walls were filled, the floor cluttered. Room for every empty heart that needed rest, a seat for every party guest.

And then lost, all in a blaze, in that one broiling hot July morning, he set my home on fire and in seconds it was so lost, so scattered. Beyond my grasp. All I had built. All the space I had made to welcome others. All the nights I had spent, marveling at the beautiful wood floors, the french doors, the sun burst windows, the mantel, the fire-less fire place. I loved that home. I loved every knotted wooden board. I was in it, in all the dusty windowsills and scratched linoleum tiles. I watched her burn, I banished her image as I wept. Do not come here, I cannot bear your beauty. I could not remember. My mind full up with grief, I had no room, but that one room.

How could I have decorated for any holiday in my room- the new room, the grief room, the room I refused to call my home.It wasn’t my home. My home had evaporated. All that could have brought me physical comfort lost. I could not in good conscience decorate. What decency could be found in this cell? I was what it was to suffer, the walls that contained my un-masked sorrow, they couldn’t have been made bright. It would only have burned too. To love was to lose, to watch it stream away in bright, 104 degree heat. Like a mirage. It wavered and disappeared.

It can all go in one second or, it can all go in however long it took him. So fast to lose so much.

It seemed reckless, foolhardy, to imagine my home was safe ever again. I would feel it in my bones every time I made my new home more comfortable. Don’t get too close. Don’t love this too much. Don’t sit here too well, don’t let this creep in. It will be gone, it will be gone, it will all be gone.

And then, somehow, tonight I put an old stuffed penguin with a Christmas sweater on my mantel, nestled in the new faux-evergreen, next to the dollar store tree I bought years ago.

Like a sapling sprouting. Like clockwork re-wound. Like contentment arriving, unannounced. Sorrow is my soil. I make room, I grow. Up, even now, up.


Theory 17

The images start around the time the sun sets. I guess that’s earlier now, so in-specific. The images start when I am settling, the kitten purring on the far edge of the bed and the world dimming. The room foggy, my mind bleary and teetering. Then, that moment, it flashes, and I am upright, rigidly awake, grasping at the cat. No, no, I tell myself, she is not suspended by her little furry, fat neck from the ceiling. She did not mysterious become entangled in the cords for the fan, nor has she thrown herself face first out of my 7th story window. I touch her, and am mildly settled. She is a cat, after all, and I am not so far gone. Only that layer of my mind is, that layer that shoves these violent images in, unannounced, unprompted, over and over again, for hours until I relent and take a pill to ease the worry, my cat cooing by my side, unawares. She doesn’t see the terror in which my mind situates her, nor the violence of my fear. She is content, plump and soft. Dreaming of her next treat, while I daydream of more death and decay. If I lose sight of her, the image comes barging in, laughing at me, with the ridiculousness of my terror. I am petrified till I can put her in my sights again. Sometimes, I’ll awake out of a deep sleep to panic, convinced she has died, perhaps even by me, as I rolled over in my sleep.

This new room has not abated my chaotic under mind, the section of my mind that remembers, that only remembers, that is stuck in remembrance gear: be afraid, be afraid, be afraid. Death lies only beyond that closed door, looped around a handle, ready to knock you out. Death will steal, will leave you naked, will lead you into a colosseum so empty it crushes you- the vastness of your isolation bursting you apart. I do not grasp, though occasionally I try to pry up this ugly grey carpet, hoping my old hardwood floor lies underneath, that this all an elaborate and cruel joke. No, I do not grasp at the pain, to bring it closer. To make myself tolerable I keep it all at am arms length, til at last I come “home” and sit still. The stillness corrupts me. Or, no, the stillness betrays me. I think, “now I live in a rather large hotel room”. Dispossessed. Still dispossessed. STILL! It just continues on and on, day after day. I do not know how to be comfortable here. The artwork, the family photos, the new couch, none of it eases the terrible ache, the ever present fear. No rest can be had in a bed I do not want. My dreams translate my mind for me, presenting chaos, destruction, loss, fear. I awake, and in my 3am grogginess I plant my feet on the floor in despair. I still hate this floor, no matter how hard I try. My weary mid-night body allows me to be morose. Do I win this battle? Can I love a home again? Now I wake up every morning to a headache. Again, I think. This, again. 

Perhaps you think I wallow, that I cling, but the paths down which I’ve chased contentment have lead me in a labyrinth of circles. I am ill at ease here. I do want rest and honest comfort. And I want a night, please just one night, one fucking night without the image of my cat hanging from my ceiling. 

I don’t even know what grief is any more, I am lost here. It continues to be unreal. I’ll catch myself during the day thinking- no, now, that didn’t happen, did it? It seems less like an event and more like a state. I didn’t just find him, I continue to find him. He isn’t just dead, burned up, but he is ever-presently dead. Confoundingly, persistently dead. Maybe some day someone can explain that to me in a way I can understand. For now, my fear and I remain entangled, wrestling for the control. 


Theory 16

I am a thick, dark, molasses-dense rage. I am a fire and a scream sitting just beneath my collar bone, molten and hot and consuming. I am tipped over into thrashing, screaming, sobbing anger by you, by anyone, by accident, all the time. My song is hatred. My tone is rage. I come home and lay on the ground, allowing myself to convulse with maddening fury. I grasp and see I am alone, my disconnection burns inside my arms. I refuse to reach out and I seethe with perceived misunderstanding, and feel so desperately alone with this twisting, shedding, contorted mass of rage. I am exhausted by anger, I wake up to anger, I sit in my work in anger, I can only stay on the ground so that the fury can be still. Inexpressible, uncontrollable, this rage is my jail keeper. I am in stocks, strangled by it.

I want this to end. Why must I forge through this fire? I know there is no moment where I will emerge, triumphant, a fine steel blade, ready for battle. I am always as I am now, concave, empty but for a dark, twisted mass of barbed wire, whirling around in my center. You must touch me, please, oh god I am in so much need of touch. How does anyone do this, all day, every day, for so many years without some real contact? It hurts incessantly.

What did you want? Is this it? To hurt me? I am so goddamn tired. My dreams are mangled messes, frightening and angry and unheard- forgotten- moments after I wake, but for the feeling of fear and the tight grip of my jaw as I try to gain control. Why would you hurt me? I long to forgive you, to forgive myself, to feel genuine joy for longer than a moment. The summer sun cannot touch me in here, and I need it- have I not earned it? Can I not win this round? But life is, as we know, not fair, not a give and take.

I am exhausted by your shadow, deprived of the sun, no matter how I claw towards it. I know you were sick. Your mind not functioning as I am so lucky that mine does. I can sit and sulk in sobs and gasps of rage and pain, but not desire to leave it all behind, as you did. You felt it was your best choice, but god I wish I could know why, in a way no one ever can, because it does not exist. It scalds me, now I am skin grafts and “afters” and time is demarked by your moment, not mine.

I carry on, setting goals, anticipating a time when I won’t be held hostage by this exhausting, confusing anguish. Weight loss, grad school, pull ups by January. May my insides be cooled, my mind able to trust, my heart soaked in love.

Theory 15

I did not know what it was to wake in gratitude. To swim all day in the joy of graciousness, of gratefulness guiding the beat of my heart. Grief is as death, forever. We do not reach a finish line and declare ourselves done, our loss subsided and subdued. Instead we use grief as the tool, the trowel to tunnel a path towards the surface, to raise our faces to the sun. The dirt above my head broke today, the summer sun filtered through my memories and glistened in my eyes. I have made it one year, though time would, as it does, pass anyway. I faced it, drowned in it and, remarkably, surfaced again, steeled for more.

And more will come. Death is constant, his death blunt force trauma to my mind. He leaves his mark, in ropes and ties and closed doors and my anxiety-crushed nightmares. But I do the work, I wake up and wash in the sorrow, cleansing it with my body. But I am changed, my mind awake now, I open my eyes in the morning and no disbelief fills my soul. I know he is dead, I know what I saw, I know I will never understand. I know I have lost a home, and I know I will build a new one. There can be no fuller gratitude than to awake knowing today I will find no destroyed bodies in my home. And that I can endure, I can come out whole, I can love with open arms and foster new friendships.

And what of love, of the family and friends who reached out to me to speak to me of my strength, of my endurance. Friends, I have not endured alone. No one can. It is on your backs, satisfying my emptiness from your wells, allowing me to soak in your joy, that I have stayed afloat. There is no thanks that could encompass my gratefulness. Your beauty is captivating, your generosity boundless. I love you and I love because of you.

I am strong, I am a fighter, I am loving, I am embracing, I am whole-hearted here, I am alive. I am alive. We, together, are alive.

Theory 14

I’m lacking a word. It’s lost somewhere between “miss” and “love” and “fondly recall”. It’s jumbled, full of meaning and speechless. “I miss you” rings of swollen hearts, full of fire and life. It says, “without you, I feel the lack most strongly.” I do not feel a lack. I feel, perhaps, directionless, seeking, exhausted? But I was ready to say good bye to seeing you every day. But still, something… tugs. Something feels incomplete, a crossword puzzle left abandoned, the clue missing. I do not miss you and I miss you intensely. And you slip, I hate how you slip. You sneak, slowly, out of the room, leaving the party too early, not requesting permission to be excused. You are not excused, you must stay. I need you to stay. And I don’t. That is the space in-between. The curve around, the snake slithering past the right word. Reality slips in and around the comfortable places, like water, or mold, it will unearth itself everywhere. Like roaches. The reality of you is like a cockroach. It is tough, it will be around in me forever, perhaps undetected until disturbed. Until ever so intensely inconvenient, you spring up, ruining a dinner party. But stay then, please stay. Let me be fully immersed in the agony, let me grip the memory that you may feel closer as these minutes, inexplicably, leak by. They will keep rambling past you. You will become dusty, and heavier, sinking, the weight of the infinite number of minutes ahead that will not include you resting on you. You could not bear them, is that why? Is that why? 

I know I am not close to you now. I know I am no closer to you than I was the moment I looked down and saw that mop of dead, dead hair. But- I wish to be this close in time to you. In bendable, wavering, unfaithful time. Time, curving to change with gravity, with speed. Meaningless and the only thing that matters. I’m afraid I’ll lose you, and afraid I’ll never lose you. You are not a puzzle, I cannot solve you. I cannot piece together the shattered glass, restore my old furniture and regain what I mourn. You are forever unchanging now, unnatural. This is not what I want, I don’t care if that is petulant. I saw you, in confession, in pain. You were so kind. You thief. 

I echo, I reflect like twin mirrors. “Why?” “Why?” Unanswerable. “You didn’t deserve this.” Like a tea kettle, I release. Over full, I scream til empty.

The anniversary of your death is soon. You will not appear, and yet I am afraid.