by Marc Séguin
translated by Kathryn Gabinet-Kroo
Exile Editions, 2014
BRANKA HAD SWALLOWED ALL HER BOMBS.
Hadn’t let a single one fall. We had gone to see The Hurt Locker at the movie theatre in Union Square, in June, and we had talked about the things you have to swallow without saying a word. Our armour is not all of equal thickness. The threat and the gunshots come most often from within. She believed that the things that remain unsaid and bottled up somaticize into cancer or some other serious illness. She had an uncompromising policy with respect to the truth, and like Jules Renard, a nasty compulsion to always want to say everything. And when things blow up, you just have to count the bodies and tend to the wounded. In particular, to stay with them. She would stay with her victims, as much as possible, to take care of them. Branka and her pharmacy dispensing love.
She never wanted to hurt anyone. She digested the grenades, the shells, the mines and the rockets that had been sent her way. If some move out of harm’s way, dodge them or reflexively turn their backs and cover their eyes, she preferred the implosion. Sparing those close to her the shock wave.
She’d gotten pregnant the second time we’d seen each other, after the diner in Jersey City. The night when she’d had to go throw up during the meal. I had found her touching. Sensitive. Yet she seemed calm.
I had assumed she was allergic to iodine because we’d eaten sea urchin. “No, it’s what’s going on right now that’s doing it.” I will never fully understand what she really meant to say. Perhaps she had just figured out what we were.
“Promise me that you’ll never let me hang your stuff up to dry on a clothesline with my big flabby arms.” I had answered that should we ever get to that point together, we might actually find it kind of lovely. It was one of the rare times where I’d been right to say what I was thinking: a man’s love for a woman also means loving time and the traces that it leaves on our bodies and other places. Like the wind and the rain, it weathers us. In the best sense of the word. A patina.
I told her again that there is only one tragic drama in America: our emotions. The true victims of a great calamity are our feelings and perhaps those of the people closest to us. Nothing more. No group, no gender, no race, no kingdom. And certainly not ideas.
Translation by Kathryn Gabinet-Kroo
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