This is my heart.
Not the flesh and muscle heart. Not the heart that broke and lies held together with wire and anti-depressants inside my chest. It’s still too fragile to be exposed to the elements
This is the “outside” heart. The one marked on my breastbone for all to see. That’s if they choose to. For, those that can, see the sensuous line of it – the tendril – the vine. Those that can’t, see only a mark – shape – much as they see me.
Last night, you took me to the Horseshoe Restaurant in Mumbai…. or Bombay, as it was then. You ordered chai and sweets – fragrant with cardamom and cloves. We sat, heads touching, and laughed over the photos of dive-bombing parrots, and the gecko in my shoe. I thought I smelled soap on your skin when I leaned close to your shoulder. You pointed to the Gateway to India and I could feel the muscle in your forearm when it brushed mine
The smell of soap on your skin.
I thought I could sense it lingering in the air when I woke up.
The fact is that you never took me to India. I went there when I was 12. And though I did drink chai and eat sweets at the Horseshoe, you weren’t there.
He never took me to India, either but it is an easier trick of the mind to dream you there than him. In fact, in my heart, I feel that everything I have ever done contains a fragment or your presence, long before we met.
That means nothing, of course. Not really. It is just a thing. I can’t will it away, though, even if I cared to and I would like to think that I was there in your life, too – now – then – past, present, future, even if we never meet again.
Do you recall the hotel in Athens? White sheets, and the sun through the slats in the shutters. The light hurt my eyes while I was recovering from a fever. I sense your cool hand on my forehead, now. Then, though, it was the cold tiles of the bathroom floor, not your hand – that is one fragment.
Fragment: Age 4, sitting on the windowsill in the kitchen in Kemptville, watching a thunderstorm. The sky was green. Do you see it, now? My skin tingles with anticipation of every thunderclap and my face is pressed against the glass and your breath is in my ear.
Fragment: We’ve driven up the coast of Cape Breton and now I am sitting on the rocky beach with the waves pounding just feet from me. They have long ago worn the rocks smooth as breasts. I will take some home with me. I’ll feel the wind rushing off the ocean, leaving a salt taste on my lips. Can you taste it still?
Fragment: The walls are wood and painted yellow. We eat figs baked in wine, sitting in silence on the balcony overlooking the sea, our legs twined together. We are sad for some reason. Later, I will watch you sleeping, dreaming, perhaps, of someone else. When you wake, will you notice I am gone?