“There’s magic in everything, and then there’s some loss to even things out.”
-Lou Reed, from the song “Magic and Loss”
Magic and loss. That’s what we get. The brilliant flash of our best days as they drive by, and inevitable parting. Dean Young wrote, “There must be an aesthetic not based on death,” but I doubt it. Glory and disaster root firmly in impermanence. Realized beauty fades.
Even when I love a color, the brushed magenta of sunrise, I love it in part because it’s already leaving. When applied to my young children, this concept makes me shade my eyes.
All our bags are packed and waiting by the door.
But screw that, man. Yes, we’re going to die. Yes, that makes everything sad and lovely. It’s just that dancing, sex, whipping through the woods on a bike, laughing like an idiot—those moments explode the cycle. They suspend. Those kinds of magic, in their happening, burn away their own demise.
Of course, “magic in everything” sounds great, but really represents more of an ideal. Just discussing “the magic in everything” seems like an insult to hungry children and the victims of torture. Where’s the magic in colon cancer? Maybe this isn’t a point that needs to be made, but it’s February, and February is a serious month. February makes me aware of suffering, especially my own. February, really, is an asshole.
This editorial is kind of an asshole, too—intimidating me with its Big Message, making me try to see the magic in things all week just to realize how “loss” seems to be ripping “magic” a new one. Loss of time and joy to bad television and diapers, fear of death, the dentist packing endless cord into my upper jaw (“you’ll feel this later”), gun control “debates,” workingworkingworking.
But I try to listen to Lou. I think of “Parks and Recreation.” I think of very small, poop-free trousers. I think of empathy, nitrous oxide, my side of the argument, and livinglivingliving.
“Big John River Bridge,” a story by Darren Leo, juxtaposes one family’s magic and their tragic loss through suicide. The story’s central scene—the encounter on a bridge of a young man and a suicidal woman—maintains a gripping believability, shows excellent restraint, and hits just the right poignant note. Leo makes great use of space in his sharp, economical narrative.
At the heart of “The Memory Thief” is a very different kind of loss. Andrew Roe’s flash fiction tells a matter-of-fact story about a man with a gift for stealing memories. After years of using this gift as a kind of weapon, he has begun to help others instead to get free of painful remembrances. Roe’s slick entry into the story helps the reader accept his magical premise while allowing a full narrative arc in only four hundred words. I admire the way this piece subtly comments on the effects of our memories, the individual events of our past, and on the way we grow into the burdens of adulthood.
Timothy Leyrson’s poem, “Morning Fix,” captures the tender, personal style of Tony Hoagland while remaining all its own. In gently rhythmic lines and orderly stanzas, Leyrson examines how we love our flawed partners, how we love the singular and curious flaws themselves in the shadow of love’s impending doom. He writes, “The end of every story is loss,” a fact that only sharpens our desire to hang on to these fleeting connections. We can’t help but feel the human connection in this poem through its specific, unusual, and affectionate details.
Photo by Michele
lovely thoughts….my mom is ninety now…especially poignant….
It’s February. I measure the outdoor temperature by the size of the snowflakes and I use my dog’s early footprints to measure the overnight snowfall. During the day I’m grateful to see the sun and at night the stars. This morning I picked up my dead grandmother’s camera. There are 5 pictures on the dormant roll maybe decades old. Magic and loss.