Its Chest Beats, All White and Soft and Imperative by Miriam Matzeder
Is there a miracle surgery for this yet? Maybe I can make a fist and drive it into my chest, grab my heart and hold it still. And in the dream, my heart twitches like a bird in my hand. And I am suddenly fighting to hold this bird. My fingers struggle to hold it without crushing it. I'm trying to keep it safe. Its chest beats, all white and soft and imperative. Its wings flap and it tries to move free because that is what birds are meant to do.
It's happened that I've begun to think too much. I hate it when this happens. There is an urge to mute the sparks, to keep the fireworks display very quiet in some tent off limits to passersby. Keep it in the Easybake oven that my mother, come to find out, never really sold in that garage sale when I was thirteen. Keep the sparks confined to a tidy, little space where they can be properly snuffed out and prevented from living a real life.
I am damaged.
After he read that, he said, so was he. But I told him he deals with it better than I do.
I am damaged, otherwise I would not have responded the way I did when he asked me what it's like to love. I came up with some crap about how maybe I didn't know, after all – how maybe love isn't some thing but rather a verb everybody keeps getting wrong.
And then he shared that song. He told me to listen to it with him – at the same time. Like that was important. And, for me, it was. It was important. It was like that scene in Before Sunrise when Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are at that music store and they go into a room by themselves to listen to an album. And the song playing is about love. And both of them pretend they are simply listening to the song for the art appreciation. But really they were thinking the entire time about how accurately it articulated how they both felt about one another. And they just stood there and said nothing.
I could have answered his question at that moment, but I didn't. I was muting sparks. I could have just said, "I thought you read those first two paragraphs."
Because, for me, that's what it's like.