I have picked up the pretty ticket stubs of so many broken hearts. The floor of my big top is littered with the thoughts and memories of the girls and boys who have bust the show all to hell. I do not judge. I am no one. I am just an artist. Putty in my hands, warm or cold, shapes will be made.
There have been many, far too many to remember I fear, but I will tell you of a few. There was that girl with whom he was too sweet, wanted to ‘everything’ with her and she thought he was “A little soft, a little dopey...” Her words, not mine; he liked her, liked her a lot but he goofed off all of the time, because he was really comfortable in her company, too comfortable, which soured her cream when he did it. She wasn’t ready for a man to recline so comfortably around her just yet. She left him and he found me and said...
“I should have treated her meaner, kept her keener.”
I didn’t say a word about that. He doesn’t remember saying that to me, doesn’t remember her anymore because I took it all away from him.
Then, there was a girl, and the boy who was unkind to her ... all too easy for him to scowl when she was sweet with him. Always so angry, the weight of the world folded over and stuffed into his forehead. He didn’t appreciate her; she did everything for him and he never told her that he had noticed, even when he had.
Those times when he looked at her and smiled, but kept it to himself. She never saw it, she only was that he didn’t pay enough attention to her.
In the end when she was long gone and he couldn’t stop thinking she might have been the catch that got away, he told me it was the ‘little things’ he missed most. When she told him she was leaving, he had thought it was a joke, never saw it coming. Even though he acted like he didn’t care, that one might have hurt him the most of all. He thought he was out of her league, he doesn’t remember that nasty little part about himself, but I do.
Then there was that woman and that man, the one who she felt was teaching her about herself, but that he accepted her and loved her just the way she was. She felt like a bigger person, she felt as if she were growing with him. She loved to push him just to see if he could weather her. When he couldn’t any longer, then she asked me to take it, to spirit it away. I learned it and made it my own for her sake. Lemons and lemonade, one man’s junk, another man’s treasure. She can be unaware once more of those parts of her he didn’t accept, because I have them now.
There have been a lot, like I said a whole big top, but none like her. Rita. Her mucky palms all over the whites of a baker’s dozen. I met my match in Rita. A pro, one of the best. She gave her all, it did not matter to Rita, she had no space for sentiment or regrets or anything else inside her. If one placed an ear to her chest, I’m sure you would hear the sea. Lovers, ‘like’ Rita, for there are many, can smell death on a man. And when I say ‘man’, I mean a person, a being, a woman, a girl, a boy, a Renaute, a D’ecray, a Southerner, any type of living being. The scent they catch on the air which makes them run can be anyones, either yours or their own; it doesn’t matter in the end they will bolt.
She might have fallen out of the morning nest with the best intentions, kissed him hard on the mouth and looked into his eyes ready to make love. In the moment when he smiled back, that grain of certainty would leave her and all she would feel was the desperate patter of a hearts clawing at the back door, pleading fingers probing a porch screen. Those hard folks, them tough loves, look out onto the tumble of distress and turn their cheek to survive. The broken hearts in their wake crumble to powder and leave a little dab, a bump. I’m high on those pestled affections; I feed; I’ve fed well for sixty four years, I’m pretty big now, not athletically, not that way at all, but I can eat everything anyone gives me however bitter the taste and they’ll all stay fit and lean because of it.
The skill involved, the craft is where the art develops. The price? Let’s say they are getting value for whatever it is that their hearts and their minds need to happen, what ‘we’ make and what ‘they’ give are always in balance. The things of value weighs heavier on the heart than on other organs. Its physical structure is not conducive to this type of load-bearing, of possessing people, things, places. It is designed for speed, mobility, endurance, lots and lots of miles. Value has no meaning when the heart is broken and a price cannot be calculated in an addled mind.
It was years ago when the light box was in its infancy. Back then, in the beginning it was a ‘Community Lightbox’.
The population stood in front of it, shouted at it, asked it questions, told it secrets. The Populace was swayed by the surprising answers, the sympathetic nature and the hidden beauty in the lumens. Sumptuous lines clutching objects alive in the light. We were dazzled by its intelligence and the convincing reflections of real life it beamed back into the heads of those who gazed upon it. We knew not to be cautious. We didn’t know that it read far more inside us than we read from it. We did not notice the grey tufts of the Wolf hidden under the soft fleece of Light.
They needed to have the light inside themselves and so ignored what their instincts told them … they shut the door on their own guardians and ended communication with the part of themselves that could remind them that this was only clutter. An albatross in tow. An ordeñador that promised to banish the unordered, an onion skin over their lives, layers of fascination weaved among their feelings. The Lightbox sought to unify us all. Only a few knew this would be impossible.
Tell a story long enough, people will begin to believe you in their minds, but the truth lays dormant in their hearts. There are many types of hearts that bob in the chests of men. I have never rubbed two alike. I could not predict the shape of a wave and I won’t tell you that they are snowflakes; I will not liken them in their millions to grains of sand. There is no metaphor that accurately satisfies my surprise each time I hold one in my mind, circumnavigating its dints, spots and pitting, finding new patina, potential, virgin pathways and un-touched pistes.
No matter how well marked the route, it is nigh on impossible to step in a previously trodden imprint. Every mind has its own neuroses, closets of clutter, engine rooms and compartments long ago shut up, dusty and empty. Doorways upon doorways guarded by sleeping goblins. Rooms that illuminate to become nothing but riddles. Countless chambers of immeasurable size where the lights have been thrown only once, before other thoughts banged up the doors and moved the blood in another direction.
Many times have I smelt the stink of laziness, places left untidy with only a vague haze of ambition. There is not one type of heart, not even three. There is not one way to fix them and not ten specific steps that follow on from one another. I don’t speak prayers to be followed line by line, tongues to trace letters, hopeful that it will keep you plodding along a well beaten path and arrive settled, changed for the better. I won’t secure in you the knowledge that you are doing what countless others have done to get over ‘the one’. There is nothing promised between us and no pilgrim’s trail leading to the crest of happiness.
You are just a D’ecray, a Southerner, a Renaute, a man, woman, or child; breathing in the light like everyone else.