Burning Awake

Marie Baleo

There was once a house we did not want to leave. We left – of course. These things happen all the time. Some days, we are overcome with jagged visions of its insides. The pale marble twist of its hallways, the curvature of a certain wall. Every square inch like the body of our mother. The sounds of closing doors, secret recordings we play for ourselves. The long breath of the muezzin, the smell of rainy cardboard. The light from above, the light from within. We spent many years building cathedrals for our loss and visited them on Sundays. We never got tired of them, or them of us. We held on to the phantom hems of those we loved. We folded their pictures many times over until they became invisible. We salvaged all we could reach, and the rest will never return. Sometimes our voices find us at night and ask: Were you ever there? What do you still know? Then we hear what we long suspected: that we never go back – that we never see it again. There is no consolation. There is a shining, joyful rage to those who have survived- you know. There is something that won’t be silenced, bludgeoned by our urgent blows. It glides up our sleeves and whispers to the skin on our wrists. It sings to the warm blood that runs each of us. It wants us going. Knowing all along most endeavors will fail, knowing all along how it ends. But going. But smiling. There was never anything else. There was always just this. A road that burns and awakens.


Marie Baleo is a French writer born in 1990. Her work was nominated for a Best of the Net award in 2017 and has appeared or is forthcoming in Tahoma Literary Review, Litro Magazine, Cleaver Magazine, Maudlin House, Split Lip Magazine, Cease, Cows, Gone Lawn, The Penn Review, and elsewhere. She is currently on the masthead of Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel. You can view more of her work at https://mariebaleo.wordpress.com.

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