I only thought I loved you before; it was nothing like this certainty that’s in me now. Was all this so wonderful only because it was brief and stolen? Were we acting for each other, to each other? Was I less I, or more I, and were you less or more you? When and where do the drab moments begin? I study you so much to discover the possible flaws, the weak points, the danger zones. I don’t find them — not any.
– Henry Miller, letter to Anais Nin, 1932
You have no idea how hard I’ve looked
for a gift to bring You.
Nothing seemed right.
What’s the point of bringing gold to
the gold mine, or water to the ocean.
Everything I came up with was like
taking spices to the Orient.
It’s no good giving my heart and my
soul because you already have these.
So I’ve brought you a mirror.
Look at yourself and remember me.
Of every priest, guru, nun and rishi, of every therapist, lama, swami, and saint. Of every drug addict and several strangers on the street, I’ve asked for teachings on forgetfulness, transmissions, rituals for purification, drugs and whiskey, any form of magic for erasing your voice from my mind, your image from my days and nights, your scent of salt and lemons and warm summer rain like a tiny flame traveling beneath my skin and down the sidewalks where we once walked, where I still hear your words and the songs of the cicadas, and the shadows falling beneath the acacia trees at dusk and the strands of light coming free from the sun and stars and your hair slipping loose from its silver clasp, and your footsteps walking away with your legs, and your skirt swaying like a curtain in the wind, and my soul scissoring the air like the wings of a bird overhead, warning me—resist, resist, as it shapes the spaces around me into a shimmering of what was, a mirage, a fantasy so intense, I can taste it in my mind, like a recipe for summer, a familiar anguish that arrives and leaves without me, until at last I am so alone, I know nothing. I can’t even say who I am.
– from Recipe for Amnesia