Everything she wrote to me was in a stray language: the things she lost, the moments she stopped reaching for. I knew she held her breath when she described how the light scattered in the summer kitchen and lit up the morning dust, the dim aromas of a particular breakfast of eggs and boiled potatoes and fresh cream, the dread of the bedroom walls that were closing in, too close, too soon.

A husband, once, or so she cited. Her tales were unreliable, but she told them with such vigor, such conviction! He was thrown from a horse named Tristitia, a tall beast of 18-hands. There were no photographs of either horse or man, no wedding portraits, no markers of his passing. And how she mourned him. For all those years, she mourned a man she would not name, a man no one else could remember.

Her poetry was slight but longing: delicate lines written in pencil, sometimes scrawled so softly that they were impossible to read. She knew them by heart, could recite them, days and years after having written them. Hundreds of pages, locked away, and hidden. She remembered the words, but not where she had buried them. Or burned them. She knew them well, and, over time, I could almost recite them with her.

Everything she wrote to me was in a stray language: the things she suffered, the moments she ached for. And I, alone, continue to look for them, on her behalf and my own.


Author: Steven Baird

Writer, amateur photographer, ad compositor and chicken herder.

8 thoughts on “Tristitia”

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