Men owe us what we imagine they will give us. Suicide a debt that cannot be paid. The word, as ever, is newer than the act. Eleven people tried to kill themselves in one day in northern Ontario. We're not supposed to call this an epidemic. We're not supposed to utter the word, because it carries its own magic. Like the suicide's backpack, worn to an overpass or lab, a wooded area or lake where the man failed in his attempt but left the husk of his earlier life behind. At my university, students fall from high places; the volition that is jumping is not permitted. It might skew the statistics we fail to keep. Numbers are what matter: student retention, the sense that if we speak we enact the awful pact made between the young man and his car, or by the woman whose last tweet read: “I'm addicted to everything that's bad for me.” I cannot find his obituary, who sat in my office week after week, working. Whom I picked up at the wrong Starbucks to watch our cat. “Would have been” is the most awful verb form. Weeks spent in the “if it happens again, I will” construction of the verb to be. Sentences are not emotional, but paragraphs are. Mine hangs on ramshackle scaffolding, the kind you could either build on or leap from. Stein loved prepositions the best. And they do spin us in so many directions, toward and then away from. The worst days were those that cleared for an hour. A puppet show of happiness at 4 p.m., then the curtains fell and the little carriage left my room to its darkness. That is not the word, but it stands in. The word is verb, motion, antic rolodex of moments bathed in acid. I also am other than what I imagine myself to be. To know this is forgiveness.
3 months ago