Just behind Cedar Ridge Creative Centre, a steep switchback trail leads me to the west bank of Highland Creek, where tall grasses sway beside a sandy bank with cheerful stones below. As I continue along the narrow path beside the bank, I stop to photograph an elegant monarch butterfly before moving into deeper tree cover beyond.
I soon come to a tributary of the stream that is flowing much more slowly. Thanks to its shallowness, I can cross by hopping on the most stable stones. As I pause on the series of stepping-stones to survey the next viable perch, I experience moments of flowing water, such as a chartreuse leaf bathing in the stillness.
Although sunlight struggles to filter through the thick canopy, the steep bank offers a vision of hopefulness in grasses that are beginning their rooted stance, a scrap of sky above, and more tree leaves arching over the negative space. I have the sense of inhabiting a furrow or deep groove in an earthy canyon, transforming me into a creature with the option of crawling up and out from a den.
And I do just that, scrambling up the bank with the steadying aid of roots and branches for balance. I emerge onto the manicured openness of Scarborough Golf Club, owner of the footbridge I had glimpsed in a clearing on a previous walk. After I observe a few treasures of the golf course, including a short boardwalk in a marshy area, four irises, and an apiary, I return to the creek’s edge and forest path, the afternoon bathing in light.
Thank you, afternoon roses! When I was working in the front garden under gray skies, the roses only looked flat red, but when I took some photos after finishing the task, the sun revealed combinations of red, orange, and yellow.
Your anguish is a force, a separate soul that cries out for solace and remedy. A thousand words of comfort rise from the ache in my throat, but they cannot restore the beloved person who abandoned you. Into this void, my voice may drop like a stone.
It hurts to see you cry, face in your hands, unable to sleep, eat, or even feel real. Dizzy from the shock of sudden 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.
While your body slows to glacial time, the brain accelerates as it struggles 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.
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.
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. When the minerals and soft coverings touch your skin, they ease the hurt, giving you precious minutes of relief.
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.
(For a physical or digital copy of Visualizations for Heartbreak, please contact the author at email@example.com).