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Magical Thinking




The weeks afterwords produce emptiness on your tongue.

An inability to describe.


You try anyway, and:

"He was here.

And then he wasn't."


You look for ways to untell the joke.

Perhaps it is in the walls.

You try the light switches:

Switch on.

Switch off.

Switch off.

Switch on.

You do this every time no one is watching.

Your fingers believe there is a cosmic morse code hidden in the lights.

Properly said, it untells.


You read, later, this is known as "magical thinking."

It doesn't feel magical at the time, only true.


You teach yourself a prayer.

When you walk, your feet scrape the ground.

They alternate between cracks on the cement and bare pavement.

Crack, bare, bare.

Crack, bare, bare.

Crack, bare, bare.


You learn this prayer with your bones.

You say them when no one is listening.

You say them when even you are not listening.

They are oars, carrying you forward.

It is not impossible for your feet to unearth the land.

It is not impossible to chance upon a rhythm

that will make the universe disassemble

and reassemble with a person-shaped hole, filled.


A part of you is skeptical.

It is your job to be skeptical.

You are in a profession of reason, not prayers.


This part of you believes in logic.

It asks, "what brings you in today?"

It places central lines.

It locks its elbows and thrusts, to the rhythm of disco songs.

It knows that the universe will listen.


It writes on slips of paper that are exchanged for pills.

When taken in the right rhythm, right order, these pills fill person-shaped holes.

Or perhaps they stop the making of the holes.


This part of you gets to say:

"The patient is here."

And then:

"The patient is still here."


This part of you gets to alter the trajectory of the joke.


This part of you doesn't believe in prayers.


You make them anyway.

This has never been the part of you that drives you forward.


The light switches and sidewalk carry you.

You drift.

A year passes. And then another.

With time, the rituals become more about remembrance than resurrection.

Then the remembrance fades, replaced by habit.

Then habit fades too.

Much later, you try again to spit the emptiness from your mouth.

You don't try again.

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