This is the ballad of a broken heart.
Your voice is frozen in time and you’ve been singing the wrong note for a dozen years.
Where does the anxiety of losing what you can never have come from? You think you have fallen. But you cannot tell if your heart is really singing, or just drowning in nostalgia.
You can’t control the shape in which the objects of the moments imprinted upon your unconscious are distilled.
His mouth. You think of earlier, when you were sitting across one another in the sushi restaurant he’s obsessed with. You wonder if he’ll ever get sick of it. He takes your hand in his on noticing the hard mounds of flesh on your ring and middle finger. Callouses. The time sways slowly. What was it again that Leonard said? There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. Of course you don’t think he’s perfectly pure. Nothing is. Nothing is exactly anything. But can’t we pretend? He tells you to dismantle the binaries; pure-impure, perfect-imperfect, virtuous-wicked. You feel something inside of you shudder. That old familiar feeling of being told how to be because what you are isn’t good enough. You feel like shattering the glass in your hand on the floor, taking one of the shards and drawing blood to show him right then and there that you have a heart and it’s already breaking.
Now when you walk up the street in the direction of home you smell smoke from the wood burning oven at La Palma. The smoke embalms the street with a scent that brings to mind a place quite unlike it, with the limbs of its trees decapitated, grappling for something its crooked arms cannot contract around. Your mind wanders. The smoke continues to burn, unable to be seen. You feel a spasm in your left shoulder and think about the woman that was on your bus earlier, how she started talking to herself and shrugging her shoulder up to her ear over and over.
Did you know that our planet is one of billions within the galaxy? Did you know that our solar system is part of an even greater system, located in a very particular point of the Milky Way, so that life on Earth subsists as this amalgamation of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and whatever else? Did you know that right now we’re floating in space amongst so many other round balls of rock and gas and slush, but it doesn’t seem that way because of how thick the atmosphere is, and because at the core of the Earth is a special substance which protects it from solar showers and dangerous pellets of fire. When you look up at the sky you are only seeing fragments of something that will never cease to expand.
We all want to come undone at some point, but only when we’re good and ready. Sometimes a lifetime isn’t long enough. Sometimes we grow impatient. You have been so recklessly impatient. Where might you be otherwise?
On the precipice of a memory somewhere is a dimension that is neither here nor there, neither then nor now. No man’s land. And what belongs in this patch of timelessness? Discarded thoughts. Moments where you know the what but not the when. Brown eyes. Clouds shaped like frogs. Green lilac parks. A bunch of parts with nothing to belong to because you forgot.
Juliann Garisto studies English at the University of Toronto; she is currently reading collections of poetry by Jim Morrison and memorizing the international phonetic alphabet.