If you kept a part of everything you’ve broken, how big would the pile be? Several trunks would follow moves, and, if you dared to reach into shards of glass and crockery, you might find forgotten hours and days in fragments.
Prufrock has scuttling claws, you bits of mugs given by hands and faces lost long ago. This imaginary pile is mostly accidental, products of inattention and clumsiness. Other broken things touched you peripherally. You pushed the button for the last time or found the weak bridge of plastic, metal, or fabric fated to snap or sever at someone’s hand—yours.
That’s something though, you were an instrument, the person present.
Of course, writing about your collection of broken things wouldn’t necessitate talking about those moments. Writing is coy, as much silence as saying. Quiet means to seduce readers, even if, as you compose, the idea of being seductive seems laughable. No one sees you as you search for what might incite longing. It will be your longing and a reader’s only second-hand. Loss eludes the future tense. You write about what’s gone because you wish for belief, faith in what you once possessed and don’t anymore.
You can’t write without guessing an audience’s desire, so every approach invents resistance. So much of what you might say no one wants to hear. In that pile of broken things is a key snapped in half, the other buried in a lock elsewhere. In that pile are edges defining what’s gone, the eye that implies a face or an eyeless face. Somewhere, among all the pieces, is an object you meant to keep whole and, no longer whole, lament still.
Among the rubble is lost childhood, everything meant to be reassembled, clues to what led to life now. As you began, you continue. Where you assembled, you stoke your desire to repair. You picture placing parts together, searching for pleading edges, epiphany in dissimilar but sympathetic losses.
Here is a device. Here is a machine. Writing means to make discarded cogs mesh and turn detritus into treasure. You’ve been told, perhaps many times, there’s truth in trash. Just look and, if you see nothing else, you will see abandonment. Privation speaks. All the fragments shout loss, seen or unseen, implicit, explicit, invisible, and aching.
And even if you keep no pile or trunk of pieces, the broken will lurk by implication. You have only so many words, and you’re bound to surround reality in your attempt to say what you can’t. It will all be said, either in words or in what they leave out.
Some part of you circles this imaginary midden, looking for clues that might collect it all and speak at last. You won’t quit believing in meaning. You can’t stop collecting. You want to realize sense in what you know is gone. You’re sure there’s something there.