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  • Madness Is Remembering
  • Jessica Reidy (bio)

First, he reminded you of Eros in the cave. In Paris, you saw Canova’s sculpture Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss shortly before you met him, and when you invited him into your bed, you saw his naked form and remembered the statue, and named him Love: delicate, yet masculine, waif-like but sure as the white stone that made his body. Not your usual type but that made him enchanting, refreshing: this one is different, this one is Love. Love reads Beckett and can speak eloquently on Milton’s Satan. Love kisses you with soft, bowed lips, full of vodka, beneath red velvet. Love leaves you with a taste that is sometimes sour. Love collages his speech from Greek myths and constellations, and reminds you that poetry is meant to be spoken off-the-cuff in cold, dirty streets. Love reminds you just how much you don’t know and makes you wish to be better. Love reminds you that you’re damaged and your memory is not to be trusted.

When, a few short years later, you are married, and you say you’d like to go for a walk, Love maintains that he did not dissolve into rage, as you remember. “And no, you can’t walk by yourself, and why are you always wanting something? Why can’t you just be happy?” Love did not scream at you for hours, as you thought, as you crouched in the bathtub, shook, and wept. You’re just terribly sensitive from being raped as a child over and over for years and years, and from the boyfriends who beat and broke you near to death, and now you’re crazy, and who can blame you? Love only raised his voice a little. Love puts up with you because he adores you. Love will heal you. This is why Love makes you give the details of your years in Hell. Memories are a vražba, you tell him, in the Romani language you are reclaiming. If I speak them aloud then they are conjured into something real, and I can’t live in that world. Love shouts that you’ll never heal if you don’t talk, that you’ll malinger in silence and your abusers will win. You say, There are certain things my family doesn’t talk about—the shame is too heavy to peel from the tongue. He presses, break open, [End Page 33] spill the memories haunting your body, rip open for Love, but the pressure makes you seizure and collapse.

From the floor, you see yourself as a wooden sarcophagus floating down the river like the Lady of Shalott, your tongue as stiff as the coin that ought to lie beneath it. You come back around after some time and shame on you—you scared Love half to death. Later, when you ask him not to push you so hard, when you remind him that your body is a complex system of defenses, Love says, “You are a minefield—too much to handle.” You think, Love has fashioned me so. Love pushes. And when you can’t speak, Love tells you, “Write,” so you scrawl in your notebook and pass it to him like a study hall note, My cousins fisted me in the backseat of the car and I was wailing and my father was driving and my Aunt was in the passenger seat and they did nothing. I was so hysterical that he crashed the car but I was grateful because they stopped. No one spoke of it. I was 10 years old.

In a way, it does feel validating that now someone knows, but then Love stomps around the apartment hollering obscenities, firing curses so loud it’s like he’s trying to make your father hear him from seven hundred miles away. You shake—shouting gives you flashbacks to the men who broke you. Love knows this. “They fucking fisted you not three feet from your father and he did nothing!” And hearing Love scream these facts at you, eyes bulging as they do, makes you sob even though you pride yourself on stoicism...


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pp. 33-38
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