How to Take it Back

I never know how to take anything back, angry words, the truth—my heart, most of all. Perhaps that is why I risk mine so rarely, only once or twice in recent years. Because there are pieces of me walking around inside the bodies of other living beings whose voices I may never hear again; there are pieces of me inside pages and my child, and there are pieces of me inside bodies that are no longer even really bodies, the kind of no longer bodies that fill up canisters and boxes with uncountable ash and too much agony. There are people walking around with pieces of me inside of them who could show up at my door unannounced and always be let in, no matter the time, no matter how long it had been since I had given that piece and they had walked away from me with it, who will never show up, who probably don’t even know they still could. Because I never know how to take anything back.

I never know how to take anything back and some days I feel it so keenly, the patchwork nature of my heart, its rough edges, the way it buckles and strains to fill in all the empty spaces, to grow. I place my hands against a tabletop and flex the fingers outward, watch the tendons move, the bright blue of veins, those tributaries dead-ending under skin, and it is easy to see what their limits are. I know what my hands will hold, the size of things, their weight. Not so with the heart, if the thing I hold today or the thing I give tomorrow will be too much, if anything at all will be left in the aftermath.

If you can’t take it back, might you instead try to say “enough?”  Because you can love someone and not want to be with them, love someone and choose to leave, wake in the middle of night weeping from the dreamt sound of their voice, and stay gone. Wake in the middle of the night weeping from the dreamt sight of their face, and stay gone. You can think of all the things you might have said to make it right, remember those words weren’t yours to say, look at that empty path leading to your door, and still, you can stay gone. It won’t mean you don’t love them. It just might mean you love yourself a little too. And maybe there’s where you begin, if you want to take it back.

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