There are some things I cannot soften. Some things are harder than stone, than diamonds, but more vicious, uglier, more cruel. There are some places in my heart that have changed, darkened and hardened. Guilt and shame twist me. They are the dark matter that moves through me. They are forces inherent in me, defining my altered state. I exist in the violent silence after the explosion. Not in the act itself, but in the seething stillness before the wailing. I am both guilty and faultless. Ripped in two, split like atoms, but I form no new elements. Instead, I split again and again and again, caught.
I feel the heat trickle from my shoulders down my back. A door to our past opens up and I feel it, the summer sun beating on my back. I start to sweat. The heat hugs me, then reaches over my shoulders, licking at my heart. It is winter and so I must unzip my big Chicago-proof coat. I’m burning. My memories burn me. My body is sitting in a chair in a stale board room talking about death and circumstances, while my mind clings to the crispy green grass outside my old apartment building, your body only a flight away. I am on fire and you are ashes. I am caught here.
And I feel crippling shame. I wake up and cling to my sheets that they might keep me suspended between the violence of my dreams and the remoteness of my day. But as soon as my eyes are open, my brain screams- how could this have happened? And my mind is racing, cataloguing the billion ways I could have stopped this, prevented, avoided, delayed, helped, fixed, seen. How can you not be guilty when someone dies in your home? I imagined my home so different from what it was. I thought it was safe and warm, welcoming and filling. Nothing feels safe now.
I am caught. I divide. I burn.