Nonfiction by Vanessa Borjon
1. mexican women are just like the mexican songs, locas for love.
~ sandra cisneros
To remedy this sudden loss and absence of you, I write you letters under a pseudonym of War-Wife. You, gone and silent, receive my letters but do not respond. I imagine our house. Red brick, the one you promised. We have a green lawn and a nice shrub to protect the privacy of our window. Inside, we love each other, love on each other. From up here on the porch I can see someone going into our imaginary house, the door swinging open, and some man wearing black pants walks in. I don’t recognize him. My vision feels betrayed.
In these letters you have never stopped loving me. In these letters the possibility of a response keeps my love alive. I am writing across a death. Another one, another dead. I am writing to make sense of a loss. Isn’t it warm here, and nice? I am writing to undo you. To lift this veil. I try to imagine your death. I break down in tears. The feeling leaves my body. It feels so sweet to be alone. This is the only way I can imagine accepting your absence, your disappearance.
When I went to Jamie about this, we got to talking about Mars.
“Would you go?” she asked me.
“What would you miss?”
“Everything about this earthly experience.”
“Mmm,” she eats a dehydrated strawberry. “What do you mean?”
“I imagine it’d feel like throwing yourself into heaven. Looking back at Earth, instead of only being able to look upon it. I prefer permanent goodbyes. They’re as filling as a bowl of oatmeal.” The banana in our cup of ice cream tastes burnt, like the dirty side of a comal. Our waiter lingers too long in taking the cup from my hand, his thumb over my ring finger. I think of burning off the hairs above his lip and Jamie says to him, “That’s enough.”
She feels the loss with me, in this restaurant where everything is so clean and we are both disheveled, both War-Wife, careened in the mop-water of our love.
My coffee has gotten cold, the blue mug still warm at my lip. Every morning I feel acidity in my abdomen, where before I felt light and airy. I get rid of this feeling. I hold it hostage, stupidly. I say goodbye. I demand myself to believe in it.
Now I sit near an open door, I let the air and the breeze cool me. I erase the memory of your boots at the foot of my bed. I replace it all with birds, with moths, with winged animals. This goodbye I’ve been holding onto for so long, for no reason. I let it go like a kite string, like the last candle on a birthday cake. I wait for the next word, I wait for the next word, I wait for the next word, I wait for my next move. The openness of a ceremonial Sunday, of so many hours of sunlight, of a man in space returning home, a stranger to me, our Earth: his soft place to land. So I land, too. Without the weight of unbelieving. The goodbye. I land here.
Vanessa Borjon is a chicana writer and educator living in Chicago. She knows grief.