On the Anniversary of Heartbreak


On the Anniversary of Heartbreak and Its Doppelganger

“Farewells can be shattering, but returns are surely worse. Solid flesh can never live up to the bright shadow cast by its absence. Time and distance blur the edges; then suddenly the beloved has arrived, and it’s noon with its merciless light, and every spot and pore and wrinkle and bristle stands clear.” – Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

Dear Margaret:

Your words have twice crossed my sightline in two days. With no surprise. From the dusty pages of books, to the glowing screens of Google and Goodreads, we all seek out messages that call to us. Pieces of poetry that speak to our souls…or our present perplexity.

Oh fortune cookie! Oh page 9 horoscope!
Oh Divining Rod and Pretty Painted Pentacles!
Tell me what I need to know!

But there should be no call for wizardry. For soothsaying or prophecy. Not on this day, when history doubles back on itself—as it always does.

Now, two times the Universe returns my past to me. Now, two times your quote appears. I stand in my own footprints again and know they look familiar. I have traveled this path before with lovers returned from the dead. Today—this Day of the Dead. This anniversary.

And yet, as if I had not learned history’s refrain—memorized it, carved it in skin—my heart and soul conjure you up, begging what to do with the beloved on my doorstep now.

Oh fortune cookie! Oh page 9 horoscope!
Oh Divining Rod and Pretty Painted Pentacles!
Tell me what I need to know!

Sincerely, Jen

• • •

WORDS ©2014, Jen Payne
IMAGE: Echo, by Paul Delvaux (1943). Paul Delvaux (23 September 1897 – 20 July 1994) was a Belgian painter associated with Surrealism, famous for his paintings of female nudes. Click here to see more of his work.


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