My Hands Are My Heart
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Woke up restless and fretful. Triggered by an episode of Roseanne in which Jackie’s boyfriend proposes to her (“I love you and I’m not going anywhere, Jackie,” he says,) I begin to replay memories of C in my brain. Stretched out on the couch watching Cropsey. Slow dancing in front of the dart boards at his favorite bar. Sharing ice cream in bed. Reading poetry aloud to each other. Making Big Lebowski jokes all the way through Tron. Cooking breakfast together. The first several times we had sex. And then I go to masturbate–thinking perhaps this may make me sleepy. After, I discover that I am crying, and I remember that the reason I have not been eating or sleeping is because my body has shut down in order to dam a vast ocean of pain down to a trickle, and now that I am beginning to eat, and to brighten, it is seeping in. While I sleep, while I watch tv, while I masturbate. Now tears are just slipping intermittently down my face, unbidden/unbanished, just present. I lost my love and I am so, so sad.
22.214.171.124 turns to 13.
So just cry yourself clean.
Lying in the dark, dabbing on eye cream and half-asleep already, thinking, I let her down, I cannot tell her what she needs to, must believe. Thinking, I am barren myself, how can I hold out any promise to her, even though I feel it in my bones to be true? That her glow will not be wasted? That she will meet someone big-hearted enough to meet her head-on, and fully? Then I think: I am the bad witch at the christening, I can’t hold out any hope. All I have to offer is what the poet called “that consolation prize, literature.” All I can say is that when men and women again and again backed away from me in a cloud of many words, so many words but at the heart of all the words burning the single bright rosebud NO—when they all found me wanting and pushed away from me, I wrote. I wrote straight out of that rejection. Everything I’ve ever written has come right from that fire.
So if I am honest, that is all I can offer. Not a promise of a someday brave-enough, man-enough lover. But of what to do when again and again there isn’t anyone true enough for what is au fond a relatively simple task: just being there day after day, like coffee or bread or dogs or shoes. (I don’t find it impossible to do—difficult, yes, but not impossible—and have never understood why other people find it so hard.)
(I know when I see my ex-partner next, if I ever do, he will say how much he’s missed me. And I will smile, with my head to one side, not a pleasant smile, and say, “Yet not prohibitively so.”)
Write, sweetheart. Don’t waste your time writing to your beloved, now, but write it bigger than that. Write love poems and epistolary poems and furious blood-curdling cold hatred poems. That’s all I have. I’m sorry. I wish it were more, or different, or more peaceable.
But the truth is that what I have is no peace. I have only those ragged, uneven ink tattoos that prisoners make on the backs of their own hands.
Dance-partied, napped, taught, napped, went to a reading, had dinner at an amazing little taqueria on the outskirts of town, went to an art opening, came home and stared at the wall. Complete exhaustion. Please god let me sleep tonight — I want so badly to write tomorrow.
the word the animal
A dear friend says, “your new hair is beautiful. Truly, you’re glowing.” I push the compliment away– I cannot be beautiful now. “I know,” she says, “I understand. The heartbreak makes you glow. You are beautiful now and it’s useless.” I do not cry or contradict, I just sit quietly, awash in the useless glow.
Observant of this same glow, my fem theory professor hands me a photocopy of the following passage:
The death of a promise is like no other because a promise is incorporeal; there is no body to claim, to bid farewell, to bury. In mourning a dead promise, a promise that no longer is one, we mourn ‘the disappeared’; this is a perpetual and ungratified mourning that reaches in vain for closure. The very object that we mourn–the opening of a different future, the ideal illuminating that future–has vanished. So we cannot even see or say what we mourn, gather at the site of its disappearance, weep over its remains, hold its lively embodiment in our memory as we must if its mourning is to come to an end. This is a mourning that inevitably becomes melancholia– as the loved and lost promise becomes nameless and unfathomable in a present that cancels and even mocks it, its disappearance is secured by this loss of a name and so also is our inconsolability. Melancholia too because if we experience the promise as not simply dead but betrayed, we are divided against our love for it. Love betrayed but not given up is love that literally does not know where to house itself.
The dear friend brushes my new, swirling, bouncing, shining hair out of my brimming eyes. “He either loves you horribly and intensely and cannot speak to you, or he is horribly, intensely sick of you and cannot articulate why. Either way you must, just.” Later I meet a man at the dog park who admires my bounding, sweet girldog, my bouncing hair, shining even in the dark, even in the ugly streetlights.
“Yes, well, goodnight,” I call, friendly, and shuffle home to sob in her shining red fur.