“July 2015: A Compendium” by Daniel Garcia is a testament to the emotional heft of brevity. Garcia’s CNF compendium, presented as a triptych, offers three modes of exploration through grief and trauma.
betroth(-al) | \bi-ˈtrōt͟h
v. to promise one’s self to another; to be true.
n. a space wherein two people circle together and then fuse.
hope | /hōp/
v. to bridge, as if having shot an arrow, across the interstice between dream and touch.
n. the bloom, red and slow, in my sternum, the day we met; you’d taken me in your arms after calling my name in Spanish—I’d spun to see you, hurrying, trying to reach me.
remains | /rəˈmānz/
v. to continue occupying a space one has taken residence in; to wait, to stay.
n. the parts existing once other essential pieces have been discarded, abandoned, removed, or have otherwise ceased to be.
In bed, six months after I left you, I’ll curse myself: for not leaving after the first blow, for flinching while you begged me to stay; how I lobstered in my dorm’s shower after the first assault. And the day you visited me at work, sober for once, lips rustling through my hair: I hear it still.
In class, ten months later: I’ll remember, sob. The dream I have—us, older, gray; a ring circling my finger; a whisper in my ear, my name, that you’ll always love me: I see it still.
In your apartment, on our last night, in July: a dance before this second killing of consent; my hands at your chest; the rift our lips abbreviate before your drunk, piercing fingers as I consider the wall, just before I stumble out: I feel it still.
1. Romance language that it is, me faltas tú in Spanish doesn’t fully translate to I miss you in English. The difference isn’t so much I am sad the arrow failed to reach the target, but more I remain unfinished in my dream of the arrow reaching the target. It is to circle a negative space, a forced deficiency—vacancy, occupied. Thus, it might be more accurate to say I am rendered incomplete by your absence, which I find to be both sad and beautiful.
2. Before writing this essay, I came across the etymology of betroth on a site with several similarly spelled words. It sat in gray; I was on the page dedicated to it. Right above was betrayer, which I found to be a bright shade not unlike spilled wine, like freshly dried blood—dull, blooming.
Daniel Garcia’s essays appear or are forthcoming in Ninth Letter, Quarterly West, Guernica, Passages North, The Kenyon Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. Poems appear or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, Electric Literature, swamp pink (formerly Crazyhorse), and others. A recipient of prizes, scholarships, and grants from Tin House, PEN America, and others, Daniel is the InteR/e/views editor for Split Lip Magazine, a Lambda Literary Emerging Fellow in Nonfiction, and an Emerging Writer Fellow with SmokeLong Quarterly. Daniel’s essays also appear as Notables in The Best American Essays. Find Daniel on Twitter @_iloveyoudaniel or at danielwritespoetry.com.