the bridge

Close your eyes tilt your head to the left and you’re here. Sitting on a grassy hill, at once every age you’ve ever been. Legs crossed like you used to on the floor of your classroom in primary school. Legs crossed like you used to on your university campus, laptop balanced on your knees, reading but not really. Watching birds. Big breath in and you exhale everything and you feel that fleeting feeling that life is happening to you. And you breathe in again and the feeling’s gone. Colours and shapes and lines that never intersect and the faint impression that the stars have shifted.

Close your eyes tilt your head to the left and ignore the rest. I’m nineteen because that’s what feels right, that’s the last time I felt like me. I thought I’d forgotten what that feels like. It’s quiet the way I imagine the world was three thousand years ago. All bird chirps and rustling leaves and the distant drip dripping of a lake, somewhere, being.

And I am here and I am nineteen and I am breathing and I feel for once that that is enough. That if the world snapped out of existence and I was left here, nineteen and breathing, I would have done enough.

I don’t think I’m thinking.

The bridge in front of me is straight out of a Monet. Not as if I’d fallen into the painting, but like the painting had fallen into the world. Tall and four dimensional. Everything is so green and vibrant and alive and Romantic with a capital R. Like the Coleridgean Romantic. Or Byron standing over his sea fog. Green and golden warmth and I see myself sitting in this picture perfect scene and I am immensely sad. Sad the way I imagine only myself and Gatsby know. Sad the way one is about the absence of something that was never really there in the first place.

Sad the way I feel when I wake up and it’s my birthday.

Sad the way I drive past my childhood home and feel nothing.

Sad the way I wish I felt something.

Sad the way I imagine I would feel in the Louvre.

Sad because I don’t know how you are supposed to live again after you’ve stared into the depths of a Monet and you realise what is in there can never be yours. Gatsby doesn’t get Daisy and you don’t get rolling hills and distant rivers and that feeling in your bones that life is happening all around you, that life is happening to you, through you.

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