“I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved; all the cities I have visited.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges
I have a hard time letting go.
People, places, mistakes, they’re like ghosts or like water, flooding my mind, swelling my head. They come back to haunt me on rainy days with the bittersweet symphony of the shouldn’t, wouldn’t or couldn’t…
I like to argue with myself:
“So tell me, Self, is there anything more desolate than the science of regret, the sound of my own voice in my head reverberating against walls I didn’t mean to build, but now I can’t unbuild?”
Where are you, Self?
“Yes,” Self takes her time. “Forgetting the chances you did take, the truth that was good enough to be spoiled, the story that captivated you enough to make you feel interrupted… a silent happiness perhaps, but loud enough to make you miss it when it stops talking. The stories that regret erased, and now you’re wasting ink on wasted ink.”
Keep going, Self:
“Maybe, there are no mistakes, but only poor(er) choices, no right or wrong, only selection, no good or bad, only choice. No adjectives, really, only nouns, You, Me, Lifeology. No failure. Regret is like an unending funeral of undead things…”
And I keep quiet.
And then I stumble upon one of my favorite living poets. And she may have written this Antilamentation just for me, in times just like these.
And you, Sad Self on the other side of this screen, may just need to read it.
Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don’t regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the living-room couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You’ve walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
Don’t bother remembering
any of it.
Let’s stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.
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