I must be so off-base in these reveries.
I’d have to enter a new life as you’ve imagined yours to be—
an amnesiac continuation of great great aunt Bertha or someone shriveled—
even to begin to know the beginning of me.
Everyone knows there’s pain involved, but that’s just a word,
a squawk, a squiggle. I’ve met no shrieking knives;
no palm has flattened my nose with a brittle crack,
though even these would be mere wincing hints.
To imagine being pulled in half is to gape at its absurdity:
a senseless moment like drifting to the bottom of the uterus
or the watch swinging back and forth as slowly…slowly…
your existence is squeezed into one throbbing vertex.
I can only hope that the searing has been soothed away and
for you, my first moment has been whittled down
to the primeval blur of sacred fluids flowing,
the soul-deep push,
through the innermost I who chokes on its breath until elated sobs
send feathertip tingles through all the fleshy nooks and crannies of your splitting self
as one becomes two.
But that’s just make-believe.
Without your centered scent of hearth and cookies
without the daintiness that sets you into the rocking chair
without the monthly attention you must pay to your leaking body,
I am a birch tree reaching to caress the moon.
Please feel this gift for the both of us—
you have known the pleasure of the life-giving pain
that I can’t even imagine.
Static we stand fully exposed in our clothes.
We are magnets apart and converging, open armed
but tethered by the thinnest wisps.
You offer up your eye-shimmering attention, fertile with thoughtfulness,
and coax an explosion of want, trembling and sweet, the essence of me
all for you. Your searching voice, tender neck, steady gaze in mine
whispers a shock that flows through hyper-extended fingers straining
towards yours, your lips, the sharp inhale pulsing,
pulling at now. Now we move
as we were meant to, an approach that enshrines your knowing mouth
which parts in a grin shy with desire
and welcomes my deepest wish—it’s yours now too.
We caress swelling memories:
thoughts and blushing bodies admired,
rolling boil of the musical laughter,
gripping confession, dizzying genius, smile the invitation where I want
to live. Mimicking mine, your eyes cease to see and
summon me with all the force of your “I want you.”
Halfway through the argument I felt like laughing.
There she was, screaming syllabic hammers,
flexing herself with each screech
in hilarious convulsions like a wind-up monkey that flips.
Sure, I was up to my neck in wrong,
and the room’s wooden walls—so antique—
blurred dizzyingly into the vicious gnashing of her
swollen face. But somehow, all I seemed to feel
was the howl of her body language, the flailing climax
of an Italian silent film.
The bristle of a snarling wolf’s coat,
quadrupeds becoming vertical, threatening to slap you silly,
a nebula of bees poised to swarm
suddenly seemed to me to be the woman’s visceral outrage.
In that room of timber and faded oil paintings,
paintings of men holding sticks holding rope to catch fish
or of ladies posing colonially in pastel sundresses,
the clash of bulls’ bleached horns
is a spectacle of nature.
“Olé!” I giggled to myself
while holding my eyes in the wet regret
of a naughty child’s time-out stare.
My muleta, the joke that swept me from the violence
of her charges, was the fact that she’s a dainty little human.