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Our (dead) songs.
by Anika Pyle

"Our song" is a thing that people like to say about a particular piece of music they shared together, that moved them collectively, that served as a reminder or celebration of their adoration and affection. Sometimes it's a wedding song, a song you heard on your first date, the song someone played for you that made you fall in love. "Our songs" are so powerful because they come to embody not only the awe of love and the feelings encompassed therein, but also the specifics about places and people, about whole chapters in our lives. Often, we listen to these songs and can recall the exact moment in which we heard them with another person, how we felt and perhaps why we felt it. In times of joy, we can reflect fondly on those moments and listen in celebration.

In the aftermath of heartbreak, "our songs" become wrangled by the fists of nostalgia. While listening to them continues to evoke ideas of mutual joy, the power of music to hold memories about specific spaces, times and feelings makes it the perfect instigator of pain. Sometimes listening to "our songs" becomes a hurtful, visceral experience, plummeting your heart into your stomach at the drop of the needle. Sometimes "our songs," once played on repeat, become unlistenable. They sour from a celebration of affection alive and well to a stinging reminder of the death of a feeling, the loss of moments, of people, of places, of times, of love.

I recently separated from my partner of eleven years. We shared a lot of songs during that time, including the ones we made together. Music, in many ways, was the catalyst for our love and our partnership and certainly helped hold it together so long. I have suddenly found "our songs" too painful, too real maybe, to enjoy. Eleven years together means we have a lot of them. So I am challenging myself to appreciate the act of putting things to rest and the stillness of silence.

our (dead) songs

suspended in melody
dancing with the apparition
of space and time
listening to the composition
of moments born in soft and wistful gazes
now acutely guttural
like stones in the stomach
"play it Sam"
play the way we felt for one another
play the way we fell into each other
for old time's sake,
so one might be reminded of the purity of song
bathing in love's unadulterated origin
free from the grip of divorce,
the ruthlessness of nostalgia,
the rendering of lyric to obituary
of music
into eulogy

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