“You’re looking skinny, kid,” Chris says to me, running his hand down my side. He finds something to grab in the swell of my ass, palming it under the denim shorts I’ve been wearing all summer and digging in with his fingers, but it’s true, I’ve lost weight.
A few weeks ago Henry was in town to play a show. Of course I went. He lives in California but we used to fuck, once upon a time when we lived on the same coast. Back then, in love with my long hair and my scent, he’d compared my shaved pussy to the clean lines of minimalist painting—a Palermo, a Mondrian. He didn’t know very much about art.
At his show he touches my hipbones and says I’m looking thin. It’s been a year and a half.
“I hate it,” I tell him.
“I like it, it’s anorexic-chic,” he jokes, but he sees it’s making me uncomfortable, so we stop talking about it and slug back our whiskeys instead. That night, I think I want to sleep with him again, but I don’t do it. Instead I get so sneakily drunk I wake up in the middle of the night and vomit into the toilet, disturbing none of my roommates.
The truth is that a perfect body does not exist. Just the body that I have or you have and the bodies that we have that are inexplicably attracted to each other—my ass in the air like a lily with a wound, that’s from a Sharon Olds poem, “It.” Chris pins me to the couch and I squirm like a caught insect while he fingers me; we always fuck in the living room when no one else is home. The windows open. The red marks of a slap, a spank. The sweet pink edge of a whip. The faint tracks a rope leaves on the skin, warp and weft banding across the wrists.
Note for a moment how I almost fell into second person there. I want you to tell me how it feels, or maybe I’m trying to tell you as you do it. Somebody explain the use of a body, because I don’t understand it. It’s hard to write about without sounding simpering, vain, possibly anorexic. Like: the body as a blunt instrument. Like: Julian once told me he liked how he could feel my ribs. Like: I’ve never understood where attraction comes from, only how to respond to it.
Always I am stunned to remember it,
as if I have been to Saturn or the bottom of a trench in the sea floor, I
sit on my bed the next day with my mouth open and think of it.
The Cartesian dilemma: I am a body with a soul in it, a mind that operates the levers. But I am a poor operator. The eye as the locus of the soul only because it looks out from it—that’s what a blindfold is good for, use it.
Months ago, upstate, the horses roaming outside our tent, Chris tells me he likes the dumb sweetness of animals, that they cannot fail us as we fail each other in speech. I fail him again and again that trip—our sullen silence, the heat in which I cannot sleep.
When we return to each other it’s with our bodies, the way they collide and produce small energetic reactions: flame, light. It’s with tender hesitance, the rise and fall of our breath, my hand on his chest. How I guide him into me, wordlessly. Language having proven itself inadequate.