Your books are maps. This is what I understood. I never went anywhere without a poem lest I lose myself in places where girls like me should not be lost. Places like the cleavage. Or clavicles. Places like love. Or worse – possession. Places like wounds that must be tended to, and places like beautiful women’s hearts.
Being a writer is a lot like being a harlot. All you have for sale is yourself; your heart in your mouth and ink in your veins. You are a word whore. I think of myself as lost constantly on this road. Always going somewhere or getting away from it. Somehow meaning to get someplace and yet ending up elsewhere; exactly where I ought to be.
But I take a book with me and twice now they have been books of yours. When they come with me, these books become different things. A date to a dinner of one. A hand occupier at a dreadful cocktail party where someone asked me where I got “that snazzy new purse that looks just like a book?”
How neat. How sophisticated. How craven.
But they are chameleons for when my heart is light I see words that speak of clouds and skies and other things that cannot make us unhappy. But when my heart is dark with the heaviness I carry, the books are tomes to loss. Each page is an epitaph. A sticky glass ring on the wooden coffee table. Wisps of hair teasing the floors of your empty apartment.
They are companions through the (mostly) solitary travel as you make your way out of the labyrinth that is a dying relationship. The words are songs. They are chants but they do not Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. They are haikus to the assimilation of the lover to the blood that pumps through the heart of the beloved.
I lose my way; trying to get out and finding myself back in right where I began. And I stay then. I stay two more weeks of loving and smell the false petrichor in the deepest night of spring. Rain will not come to me. She will come to me. And she will come to say she is leaving me. Again.
She was arson. My bones still sing with the sting of her fire. I named her Helen for the rage on the sea that would not go out. She won’t be creative when it’s time to go, even though she’s read that line. She’ll be polite and politically astute. She will be civil to the point where I wish she’d just slice my skin open with a carving knife instead. She will be discreet, dismissive, and obliterative.
In the absence, I start walking again. I’m reading your books again. It’s like looking at old photo albums. Here I am.
My mouth is full with saying all your words which are all about the invincibility of the frail. Here I am. Here I am again. How did you know where to find me, Clem? I didn’t even know I’d been gone.