It’s one of the few I have that I’m allowed to use. The rest are owned by the professional photographer we hired. All the books said, if you’re going to spend money on anything, spend it on the photographs. You’ll want them for the rest of your life. They will be your most vivid memory of the day. My ex-wife, Heather, took the photo. It doesn’t show much, just the white and pink peonies we had on every table and in our bouquets. She added the yellow tinge with a filter after the fact. Heather took photographs throughout our relationship, and because most of them transferred to my computer while we were still married and living in the same house, I have them, too.
Heather often texted me her photographs, as well. Wild, vibrant shots she would take of lavender or green nature. Filtered selfies that caught her at her prettiest or most supplicant. Many of these became desperate acts, once I’d met someone else and she suspected me of cheating. These photographs said: Don’t forget me and Look, I’m beautiful and Remember, I need you. While these images were meant to keep me closer, they only succeeding in pushing me farther away. No matter how beautiful she looked, I never wanted to look at them. They stung me. They reminded me of my failings. Again and again Heather told me, you broke our vows. The photographs were memories then, but not of something I had or was keeping, but something I’d already lost. Something, in fact, I’d willfully thrown away.
The bush photos captured my feeling of disintegration. abandonment.
It became a symbol to me, almost an extension of me. the brittle branches, and decaying leaves.
i imagined it wailing, its sobs being thrust into the earth
this was during the time i realized you were having an affair.
the house in waukesha.
the fights. the secrets. the lies. the sorrow.
i felt you leaving me
i felt like i was dying
perhaps why i obsessed about this bush. studied it from every angle.
it was a reflection of my emotional life
it embodied my loss
the grief of something once alive and beautiful
i was so cold this day. i walked in the yard for hours, and collapsed to my knees.
i cried wildly.
my drinking had spiraled into a bad place.
i was trying so hard to deaden my feelings.
winter permeated every part of my being
you had stopped touching me
i felt so alone in our relationship
i saw this small fragile flower trying to hold the weight of the snow.
i felt small
i looked through our wedding photos that morning
i was frozen