There is a hole in my chest, and I am learning to live around it. To walk around it, to laugh around it, to find joy around it. Sometimes it is a pinprick, sometimes it is a chasm. Sometimes it is a whisper, sometimes it is a scream.
It grows, and it shrinks, but it never disappears.
I don’t know if it will ever disappear.
I carved it out for you, but it never fit quite right. It was tight around the shoulders, narrow at the waist. To you, it was a straitjacket. So you left, and nothing else I toss inside ever seems to fill it.
I have flung words, both hopeful and hopeless, laughter, friends, quiet moments of my dog curled up beside me, books that warm my soul, summer days and winter nights. I have closed my eyes and poured everything I can into its depths, and none of it has filled it. It all has filled the spaces around it, and it has mattered, but the hole remains.
This black hole of mine.
A star died inside of my chest, and even light cannot get out.
Sometimes I hear your voice from within, calling to me, and I have to turn resolutely away lest I fall right in. Fall? Dive. I hear your voice as in a dream, as in a memory, and I want to dive right in.
On those days, I have to give it wider berth than others. I have to turn the radio up loud, I have to find a song that does not remind me of you – they all remind me of you – and I have to wait for the hole to become something more manageable again. I wait while every inhale slices, while every exhale burns. While every heartbeat thuds, while every smile is bared teeth, while every word is caught between a howl and a snarl.
I am half-feral with my heart in pieces.
And then sometimes, on the days I am my bravest, I kneel at the edge of it and reach as far as I can into the darkness, and I wait, and I wonder.
I wonder how close you are to taking my hand.
Inches or miles?
When I pull my hand back, always and ever empty, it takes me a while to recognize it again, covered as it is in shadows, covered as it is in memories. I trace the lines across my palm and remember what these hands have held.
I think of your hands and how you washed those hands so clean of me, you must have taken a layer of skin with it. The layer I touched, the layer that used to touch me.
I wish that I could know what mine will someday hold. If they will ever pull something from that darkness, or if whatever comes next will come from somewhere else. From somewhere light, from somewhere hopeful. From somewhere not akin to wilderness.
From somewhere where stars live instead of die.