October, 2013, I used to fall asleep to the melancholy lullabies of your memory each night. Tossing and turning I’d hope the thoughts of you would seep out of my ears if I moved with enough force, but my attempts always failed. You see, when you were mine, and as your fingers would travel along the landscape of my limbs, seeds were planted within my bones. Your love would arrive in the form of a storm, and I was always without my umbrella. I remember feeling the rosebuds cracking through my marrow; my skin flushing the crimson color of their newborn petals. Their roots rejoiced to the nurturing of your lips as they danced across my flesh. But only a year after you planted your garden, a drought abruptly roared over my plains. Those once luscious flower beds on my bones have now been long wilted, for my heart is void of the kind of love it desires the most.
Your voice was an octave equal to the song of the birds in the early morning, waking up the Earth. And it was not until I was no longer awoken by it, and I forgot its sweet melody, that I realized heartbreak does indeed fade away. At some point my memories of you started to become diluted, some of them possibly existing as figments of my own imagination, never having existed in the first place. And even if I wish not to admit it, I’d fantasize about your next relationship. What if you loved them more? What if you forgot about me? It is hard for one to imagine a love with anyone but their ex-lover, so we scoff at how they seem so unaffected by the sadness they’ve inflicted on our hearts. But experiencing these overwhelming daydreams only lead me to the same realization that forgetting the sound of your voice did. One day I will love someone new just as you will. And maybe his hands will plant a new flower all of his own in the bones you have left behind.
Artifacts of you will still resurface when the future farmers of your old land harrow the soil, and when they do I will dust them off and position them proudly on my mantle. Because it is okay to hold onto distant times. I will never apologize for the days I spend dreaming, or the evenings I bathe in nostalgia. I refuse to let go of the memory of how your eyes were the colors of emeralds I wish I could wear around my neck. And I may never cease reliving the ecstasy that was once so plentiful because I can’t just let you fade away. I loved you first. These are my memories— only I can control their fate— and they are what will make me feel alive. No matter where you are, you will always be with me, and although we may no longer be in love, I still love you.
But while I’m here I must not deprive myself of joy, for we’ll all become just impressions in the bed sheets one day.
The source of the original public domain photograph is the digital archive of Costică Acsinte, a Romanian who acted as both pilot and official war photographer in WWII. Post wartime, he opened his own studio in Slobozia, and his beautiful archive of Industrial Age portraiture is certainly worth a long, lingering visit on its own merit.
Long has been experimenting with more from Acsinte’s collection, which you can find on her Facebook timeline.
Artist Samantha Keely Smith paints breathtaking abstract landscapes that resemble the swirling waters of the ocean. Using oil paint, enamel, and shellac, Smith builds up multiple translucent layers of color, alternating between soft brushstrokes and large, sweeping gestures to evoke crashing waves, surging tides, and stormy floods.
"There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and won’t go. For me, India is such a place. When I first visited, I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colors, smells, tastes, and sounds… I had been seeing the world in black & white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolor." - Keith Bellows, National Geographic Society