Colombia, Fiction, Mariana Gaviria

SHOULD WE BE SO EAGER TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS THAT SALT AND PRESERVE LIFE? by Mariana Gaviria

I. 

What is love but a flight atop of a silent bird? 


Writing on my couch, its crude and empty softness picks at me and the flame of my loneliness dims my face with the burning orange of that hot city where we met, a city brimming with death and butterflies. 

I sit here, yearning for memories that are slowly melting from desperate examination and abuse. I am saving flying fish, perhaps hopelessly, from living out their fate prematurely, from succumbing too early to Time’s curse: obsolescence. I can’t stop looking above me, where I have kept the porous image of your crinkling eyes resting with solace on mine. I dig and dig looking for crackling songs, encrusted signs. 

But Time passes through us, it plays tricks on us. It takes us on blindfolded rides atop the wings of silent birds and you feel like it could never end, you fall for her charms and her laughter. Her ancient and certain winds propel you away and it feels like nothing that exists could ever be big enough to stop it. Until She, with her mischief and bloated promises, decides to land and suddenly, it is dark again. The wind tames its voice and your voice gets back its wind and you can see again but you can’t hear and you can’t feel, you have lost something. 

One week has passed since we jumped into an overflowing, impossible ocean. Since we surrendered to its turbulent currents, since we saw devil-eyed corals and swam with star-crossed monsters. Since we floated on an ocean so blustery it shattered all the mirrors around us leaving us to dance on a floor colored by a perfect collection of shapes and reflections we had never seen before. 

One week has passed since we heard the waking, thundering laughs of those vulgar stray poets and saw the pirates preserved in amber erupting from the rusting walls. 

One week has passed since the sweat of possibility started running in streams down our necks. 

One week since the first moment I saw you again. 

The symphony began, its pace tangoing to the maddening rhythm of the strings buried beneath us, becoming alive after a long but uneasy slumber. Nimble and new, they took charge, staining our clean certainties, saturating our fading hopes, and making the most beautiful music. The song was so ancient and it so loudly resounded inside us that our innocent, simple minds had no choice but to walk out, defeated and in awe of the awakening circus that vanquished its ignorant importance. The deafening tremor of the drums shook our minds so out of place, threw them so far away, we still haven’t been able to find them again (What If We Never Do . . .) 

As when dancing, as when dreaming, the mind went to bed so the rest of us could witness magic. 

I am afraid I am going mad but what really scares me is that I am actually not mad. I am afraid all of this was real. I am afraid that birds did take us for a ride atop their dinosaur wings and that we did get dusted by the most ancient stars and revelled together around the first-ever fire. 

What if you did kiss me and I did kiss you. What if we did hurl into the abyss. 

What if we did go to the outskirts of all we know, what if we did visit the frozen suburban town reserved only for teenage dreamers, like Romeo and Juliet and Orpheus and Eurydice. What if we have been traveling together through the dark tunnels of a million souls, humming in bonding unison, rhyming away the monotony of a thousand lives lived. 

What if we are still there, what if we are still here, what if we are indeed still flying, still singing in dark tunnels together, what if the front row seats at the circus still belong to us. What if we still have the honor of being caressed by the masterful song. I suspect not many are as lucky . . . 

What if it was possible to never get off, what if we, by chance, stumbled upon the Truth. 

What if we saw something we weren’t supposed to see, what if jumped a bit too deep into the folds of magic, what if we did stumble upon forgotten lands where Time lowers her guard. 

What if Time didn’t see us but we saw her. 

What if through our believing eyes and swollen hearts we exposed Time’s cruelest and most invisible lie: that we are subject to her caprices, that we have no other option but to go along with her mercurial flights. 

What if we, knowing this, could challenge her, what if we could play a trick on the oldest trickster, what if we could become as courageous as the lawless ocean and as valiant as the wheeling wind and take on Time. 

What if this was the way to create the new world we have both always felt destined to imagine, what if we were the chosen ones. 

What if absurdity was actually beauty and chaos was actually order, what if everything we knew to be true was wrong. 

What if we could undress ourselves enough to understand the importance of what we lived. 

What if we could run looking at each other, laughing with fear, naked and feral into the mission of love and liberation that was gifted to us by all the angels and all the devils. 

What if we accept we are not mad. 


II. 

What is longing but a glass
overspilling? 

She only had one vice and that was to long. Incessantly. For all that had existed and all that had missed its chance. It had been a recurring dispute with all those who loved her, who took personally her intrinsic dissatisfaction, who were too myopic to understand, she thought. 

She longed for a life that was full. That was filled to the brim, with pain, with goodbyes, with dumb glee and repeating welcomes. 

She longed for yellow sunflowers on a terrace, awakening with the sound of the waves hitting the sand, saluting to the roaring of the ocean and the warm wave of the sun with their unassuming stature. 

She longed for crowded and flimsy bookshelves filled with cheap paperbacks preserved by salt water and sand and by the blue pen marks invading their margins with expired insights and fainting delusions. 

She longed for friends who didn’t pretend to be groovy or wise, who appreciated a good story above anything, who believed truth could be sugared with fiction. 

She longed for imperfect dancing, loose limbs, and glistening foreheads swaying to the rhythm of a thousand nameless songs. 

Longing is a funny thing, she said to him, defensive like a mother, a condition needed, begged, called by the act of creating. Without longing there would be no writing, there would be no cinema, there would be no folk or no sonnets! 

But doesn’t longing distract you? He asked 

No, she paused to reach for the words she had said so many times already they tasted like plastic. This was a recurrent conversation with men, who longed just as much as women but didn’t realize it. On the contrary, longing is what makes you look and pay attention, is what makes your heart turn on when you read something that appeals to you so much that you ought to stop reading it because the beauty in the yearning seems too strong to bear. It is what makes me remember the ending of The Searchers or Larkin’s “They fuck you up, your mum and dad”. Without longing, you are simply not invited to read in between the lines, to create poetry from the things you see and hear, without longing art loses meaning. Out of breath, she paused and stared at him who had been held hostage by her chaotic cadence and passion. 

Go on, he said. 

Think about it, everyone who has ever lived has felt it, if not with art, then with it all, longing is embedded deep inside of us. It is part of feeling, a natural result of our senses. You feel it the day you suddenly, by chance when looking at the mountains out an airplane window you spot the exact shade of green of the lawn you grew up playing in. Or when you smell your mother’s perfume, years after she’s gone while passing by an inconspicuous store at a random mall, in a random city, in a random work trip. We are all natural yearners as it is a neutral state in its essence, it’s a grey feeling. It is an emotion that simply exists, I am not sure how many of those there are, or if none do at all. 

But isn’t it painful, he asked, to always be dissatisfied, to always be clinging to the cruel possibility of the what if? 

She stared at him intently as she thought to herself why are we so averse to pain if nothing worth living for would exist without it. Yes, it is painful, it’s a habit that has led me to misplace all my faith on the patterns of the human endeavor, separating me from myself, from the most essential, drowning me in some could say unnecessary suffering. But it has also provided me with moments of a life that feels so whole, a life that feels guided by a lonesome, yearning star in a bleak and blind sky. A star that reassures you that if you long, if you constantly pursue the burn, the ache, the itch, the thirst, the lust, the need, the feel, the must, there shall always be more. Maybe longing carves out, with the sharpness of its power and its pain, a life so full, it overspills. 


III. 

What is Depression but the absence of Yellow? 

White shines too bright, white is simply too selfish to be seen. White needs Yellow to serve as its shoes. White needs Yellow to walk across the world, to make its pure light palatable. White needs yellow as its battle gear to heal the world. Yellow colors light, yellow is in transit, yellow is a traveller. 

One day you are alive and then, one day, they steal your yellow shoes and they mute your heart’s song. Light has decided to shed its costume in front of your eroded eyes and it’s too painful to look into its naked light, so to survive you close them and gone with the light goes the ache and you feel nothing. 

The sheets are cold and the heaviness of my loneliness freezes and preserves (vanishes) all that makes me. 

A seasoned concert pianist played every single day for twenty years until one day, she woke up a blue morning, sat in front of her instrument to perform her prosaic ritual of music and rhythm, thoughtless, she placed her gaunt fingers on each of the keys but instead of melody, she was confronted by a sinister visitor that had banalized all her deepest certainties during the night and had taken from her what made her her. She had forgotten how to play. Ambered in an unknown tower with no key, they had taken her yellow shoes and with them all the evidence of what had once been indisputable. No warning, no explanation. 

Hurt, pain, is a hurricane in the blood, it is a thunderous concert of disconcertion, self- pity and fire. It’s a saturating suffocation, a standing visit to the hell of Love. Inside its chaos lives a stern and big desire that obliges you to examine it, to transform it into something irrefutable. Like a testy precocious kid, it won’t accept to be ordinary, to be lost to louder screams. It is relentless on its mission to make you feel it. A lion’s roaring kiss in your ear. Deafening and agonizing. Alive. You can hear it but you are afraid to be near it. 

Hopelessness, despair, is a silent echo, a white memory of what used to be. It is the defeated, rumpled man whose superpower is not moxy, like pain’s, but invisibility, like God, it survives by not being seen. The most powerful things in the world refuse to be named but demand to be acknowledged. Depression, an insoluble puzzle, blink and you will miss it. Blink and the light is gone forever and you no longer have a costume or your shoes. I can’t hear it but I want to be near it.


Mariana is from Colombia. She studied literature in New York and she’s been writing in English for four years, which helped her domesticate her English writing instincts. Now, she lives in Colombia and works as a freelance writer and designer and she writes mostly in Spanish.

Photo: Lovers by Rene Magritte