Sample Chapter from Visualizations for Heartbreak: Words, Photographs, and Collages by Catherine Raine

Anguish

Your anguish is a force, a separate soul that cries out for solace and remedy. Although I have some medicine for you, I cannot restore the beloved person who abandoned you without warning. Into this void, my voice may drop like a stone.

A picture containing animal, food, standing, cake

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It hurts to see you cry, face in your hands, unable to sleep, eat, or even feel real. Dizzy from the shock of desertion, each second refuses to pass, remains incomplete. Your injured heart has lost its rhythm and your movements seem leaden, as if masses of melted tar are dragging your arms down every time you lift a glass.

A picture containing sitting, green, table, colorful

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While your body slows to glacial time, brain activity accelerates to epidemic levels as you struggle to comprehend this alien reality that cannot be happening but is happening anyway. Like a never-ending game of tether ball, your thoughts spin faster and faster into smaller and tighter circles, shackled by panic to the iron fact of loss.

A picture containing riding, wave, water, surfing

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If I had the power to heal you, I would gather the softest banana leaves in creation and soak them thoroughly in shea butter. Then I’d wrap them round your head to cool and cradle your brain, drawing out the poison of self-punishing thoughts, soothing the pain, and smoothing the wrinkled loops of endless tormenting questions.

A close up of a green plant

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For your heart-wounds, I offer a poultice composed of clay, feathers, and ferns to press against your chest as if in prayer. The heart-poultice cannot mend the cracks, but it honors them with love and witnesses the agony of brokenness.

A painting of a person

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A picture containing table, indoor

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And for your whole body, a pool has been sunk into the cursèd room that most haunts you with memories. The pool is not very wide — the width of three ordinary bathtubs — but it is fathoms deep. The sides and bottom of the pool are made of peat-black marble, turning the water so dark that it gathers you into oblivion. When you sink into this personal well, the only things you experience are the present sensations of cool healing water, your steady breath, and the kind red beating of your heart.

(To purchase an ebook version of Visualizations for Heartbreak in its entirety for $10, please contact the author at cafrinie@yahoo.ca)

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