These foolish things

The sigh of midnight trains in empty stations

Silk stockings thrown aside, dance invitations …

I know a girl who keeps her memories in two boxes. One box for happy memories, one box for sad. On particular nights she knows which box is required. She will sit cross-legged on the floor to sift through each reminder of her happiness or sadness, and she will carefully move a memory from one box to the other when moment is right. Though different memories may pass back and forth many times, each will eventually find a resting place amongst other, familiar relics.

There are ticket stubs and boarding passes and silver chains and crumbling flowers. Assigned to their place, assigned to their box. I admire her certainty on where each memory should go. On where to file each trinket in the archives of her life. And I admire how she knows when it is time to re-arrange her sadness. She tells me she only does this at night, deep in to the hours that memories take hold. Before she seals each lid and sleeps peacefully over her past.

I would not know how to separate our memories in this way. I would not know how to recognise the skip from the beat. Our souvenirs are purely visceral -you left me nothing to hold, nothing to shift from left to right. I asked you a hundred times, remember? Give me something of yours to keep. I imagined your red shirt, how the cotton would hold your scent and how I could lay it across my skin. I imagined your favourite poem in my drawer. Your cuff link in my pocket. Something of yours. Something you would miss. Something of yours to keep.

And even as you lined your walls with my favourite things, you refused.

So this what I have. This is what is left. A scrap of beach from a book I tore to pieces. A book of all the places we would never go, a book whose pages I shred one night in a rage on the floor. One ragged, rescued image when the heat had passed. One crumpled reminder of a memory not made, while the rest went in the bin.

And one photograph. Where the secret is brand new and the photographer snaps its glow. You are still the canary to my cat here, long before I understand the burden of the hunt. I am radiant, love-struck, perhaps the most beautiful I have ever been, with my arm draped around you. I rescued this picture too, from a discarded pack, when people were looking the other way.

This is what I have. This is what is left.

A glossy photograph wrapped in the half-torn page from a discarded book. Where we have been and where we will never go. What we were and what we will never be. The pristine frame and the ripped apart. A moment captured and a moment lost.

So entwined I cannot separate the two.

These foolish things - body, remember

And still those little things remain

That bring me happiness or pain …

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4 thoughts on “These foolish things

  1. I love the idea of the 2 boxes. “I asked you a hundred times, remember? Give me something of yours to keep.” I love the way you make these ephemeral feelings concrete.

  2. Beautiful… you really capture these emotions masterfully. You make me ache for all I too have lost…

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