A Small Death
by Heidi Kasa
I took my pain, rolled it up into a little ball, wrapped my fingers around it, so it had love and warmth and comfort, and then I took a knife and slit it in half, letting the insides ooze out, and from that blood I made a song, which I sang to my insides at night, until even the owls fell asleep, and one day I shared my song with a friend, who said, “you should sell this,” so I took the song to a man with one curl lying on his forehead, and he said he would buy the song on behalf of his company, and then he gave me some money—but not enough because I was nobody and the song even ended up on the moon, it went so far—and soon my friend was singing my song, and my parents were singing my song, and then a little girl in my country was listening to my song and it soothed her heart, because the song was hard and spiked but also soft and shiny, and that’s what she needed at that moment, so then she sang the song out her car window at a gas station and an old man heard her, and he needed a hug then, so he embraced the song and cupped it in his hands to give it to someone else, gently like it was a baby bird, and then a young girl not in my country heard the song and it moved her to courage, and she was able to stand up for herself in her family that day, and the song traveled from person to person, over nights and days, through hearts and minds and souls and bodies, until, on the lips of a cultural critic, my song died a small death, because he was so sick of hearing it and he thought it was too sweet, too sentimental, and not enough of real life for his tastes, so he talked about the song, all the while lifting it out of the mouths of people singing it, tearing it from the hearts of people carrying my song, and when his words reached me, I thought the song would die in my heart, and maybe the words did a little, and maybe the tune did a little, but it turns out it’s not so easy to kill a transformed pain—even if you want to—so I tore the song from my heart myself and then I wondered about how hard it is to transform pain but how easy it is to try to squash it, and the critic didn’t know, and if he knew he probably wouldn’t care, but while I was trying to squeeze my song into a pulpy mess to be rid of it at last, a new, small pain eased out, and I rolled it up into a little ball, wrapped my fingers around it—love and warmth and comfort—and I smashed it against the wall, where it made a hard smack, then burst open, and little did I know but there was a canvas under the wall that picked up the drip, drip, drip.
Heidi Kasa’s fiction and poetry have appeared in The Racket, Meat for Tea, and Ruminate: The Waking, among others. She is the author of Split, a fiction chapbook from Monday Night Press. Kasa works as an editor and currently lives in Austin. See more of her writing at www.heidikasa.com.