The boy I like told me that everything in the universe is made of stars. He described them eating themselves, the iron corrupting the heart, the spat out destitution of a would-be sun; I could relate. I went home and wrote in my diary ‘You are the ephemeral glitter in the eye of a manic universe – and I am the debris clogging the arteries of stars as they die’.
That is the difference between us, in the world of evenings as poetry – he is the star studded sky. His heart is the rocking moon that generously shares its sun with us. He is the moment when you realise that you live in the space between brilliance and beauty, and you still matter.
As for me, in that same evening, I am a lake. I reflect a reflection. I refract a resurrection of a sun gone down. I can only see the sun through smoke and mirrors, and my heart is so drowned in anxiety that no warmth will ever go right through me.
So I look at the boy through my bloodshot I’s, E’s, O’s, you – you don’t even flinch. You look right back and I don’t even see revulsion in your thoughts because your mind is a network of constellations spelling out philosophy against the backdrop of darkness. Your mind is so busy creating wonder that some of it projects onto me and for a blinding moment the lake is alight with the face of the moon.
But moments pass. Our moments past and no amount of starlight can penetrate the fog that lays heavy on my shoulders, so I stew in it. The fog presses down on me and the repressed air that I have to breathe tastes like nostalgia and necromancy and the desperation to revive the dead, to reawaken those dead stars and their occupants, to relive old evenings, to live –
If I hold my breath you can’t take it from me, I tell myself. I ground myself and grip the shores until the banks burst, I sink my teeth into sand and try to stay down – and he whispers that he hates how he looks and I break, over and over. From the pit in my belly I sob freshwater into the fields, because I can see what he can’t. I can see sincerity and passion, intelligence, wit, I can see the depth of feeling that only a lake could have. I can see hope -
He pulls away, he tugs tidal and the moon is victorious once more, I can’t resist, I can’t rest, I reflect a refraction of the beauty of his perseverance through a hundred winter storms and I pray to the sun that he never realises that the only beauty I have to offer him is what he lends me, and that when evening passes to night and the moon chases after the sun, I am still stuck here.
I am still stuck here, still cold, still tidal, still still.
The boy I like told me that everything in the universe is made of stars – and I almost believe in the metaphor of it all. In the bohemian love of literature and cold November air – almost. If a lake could burn as a star, if a lake could shine like the sun, if a lake could spread out its feelings across the sky and be open and vulnerable and tempestuous – if. If, if, if.
I am only lowly lakewater, but when you cry and the stars can’t be seen for the misery in your heart – I will catch the pieces of you that fall, and with all that you share with me – become whole.