By Billy-Ray Belcourt
1. Colonialism broke us, and we’re still trying to figure out how to love and be broken at the same time.
2. The first time he told me I was beautiful, I thought that he was lying. I thought that beauty was a plot in a story I had been written out of a long time ago.
3. What happens when “I love you, too” becomes a substitute for “I can’t,” when his hand finds your body and it feels like he’s taking pieces of it? Perhaps this is what they meant by ‘love requires sacrifice.’
4. He didn’t know a body was something you could lose in the first place, that sometimes bodies don’t always feel like bodies but like wounds.
5. Oftentimes I smell him days later, the residues of a body you could only talk about in metaphors, a body you still write thank you letters to because it helped you love yours, too.
6. He told me he’d take a needle and stitch our bodies together with the thickest thread, and then maybe we could finally begin to heal.
7. We don’t yet have a word to make sense of that initial sense of loss: of a body feeling like it doesn’t belong to you anymore. Sometimes the act of enduring itself becomes too much to bear and you forget how to go on in a world that didn’t want you in the first place. How do you mourn something you can still see in the mirror?
8. ‘Are you femme,’ he asked. ‘Because I’m not interested in that,’ he answered.
9. He lost his body back then, so he searched back alleys and bingo halls for it. But all he found were more Indians like him, ones whose scars told stories dreamt up in the darkest dormitories, stories about an elsewhere so otherworldly you could tell the difference between a wound and a body.
10. COLONIALISM. Definition: turning bodies into cages that no one has the keys for.