I don’t save up my calories in my left pocket, like silver dollars,
not even if this is the third hour I spent reading diet blogs,
not even if I have decided that this time, this time, I will lose the weight.
That is normal— everyone has the same new year’s resolution—
it doesn’t mean anything that every month is the same reset
from resignation to refusal to submit to the old hopes of a better body.
Everyone snacks throughout the day, and it’s not strange
that sometimes I can’t stop myself, can’t help myself,
have to hide a little bit when I serve seconds, when I have desert after,
that I like to be drunk so I stop the snacking, but I snack anyway,
so I skip breakfast, but by dinner I’m so hungry I can’t do it anymore.
I wish I could just throw up; that’s normal, that’s fine,
as long as I don’t actually throw up, I don’t have a problem.
I don’t have an eating disorder because I’m overweight;
I don’t look starved, I don’t look sallow, I don’t have a disorder.
I tell my parents I’m going to the gym sometimes, and I do,
but I can’t seem to make it consistent. It is there to punish
when I have been bad, I go and I work until I have no breath left,
and then I come home and I feel the ecstasy of progress.
Next day, lunch. Next day, dinner.
I fucked up. I ruined the streak, I have to start over.
These are just goals, not obsessions, nothing serious,
and it’s all very normal that I don’t have an eating disorder.
I make cookies and I give them away. I only eat a few.
Only a few. A third of them, maybe. I was hungry.
I say I haven’t had anything to eat in hours, like an apology.
Well, I shouldn’t have made them. This is my fault.
I don’t, I don’t, I don’t have a problem, don’t, don’t tell me
tell me that I need to talk to someone, don’t call with your
concern and your compliments— you are not a silver scale;
I know what the number reads, and my doctor is concerned
because I need to lose weight. That’s all I’m doing,
normally, perfectly fine, like everyone else who doesn’t
does not, of course not, have an eating disorder.
I admire the erectness of statues, and of flagpoles,
of city landscapes, of sunflower stalks, and of your body—
these things, which have always been more upright than I,
the physical landmarks of a rooted strength that I cannot fathom,
beyond season change. You give the impression
of having always been just so, just as if you were here
before any of the rest of us were ever even conceived,
and that is immense, when I, I am always bent beneath tidal sway,
so much so that I crave to inhabit your spaces, even briefly,
like a foreigner passing through monasteries abroad,
I move in suspended wonder at your sacred space.
Your door opens into a chapel. Your shutterless window is stained glass.
Your linens are tapestries. Your bed is a prayer mat.
Sometimes I am heavy with communion wine when I come,
but I come like a sinner— my intentions are the wine glass
that passes between us in a silence, bodies aligned.
You sleep straight-backed, with a spine like a corrugated blade,
as if even in sleep your posture must be so,
but I have never been known to lift my head from my chest in sleep,
curled around my stomach like an orchid around her column,
except when I have known you to be near—
I don’t understand why you open your gates to me,
when I am not so regal, not so humble, not so honest
as the believers of a worldly faith. I have nothing to leave
at your altar that you do not already own, but if I could
I would make you a gift of my moving softness.
It must be a difficult thing always to be so tall and straight,
to have been endowed with such a constitution that you cannot
bend without fearing the inevitable break. I would give you
my ability to break, every day, and always to heal at rising,
to bring yourself back to life from the coldness of the earth.
This is all I have: it is a dirty gift. I drew it from the mudwell
of my own being, and it is not something you might want.
I postulate simply that you are a good and rare thing,
and that like a traveler, like a roaming body, with my roaming mind,
to have found shelter in your company, I have been no less
My thoughts have expanded always like lungs afflicted
with too heavy a burden of oxygen: too much of a natural still,
too much, so that it became toxic, like my still and solemn nights.
In the fibers of our minds, which exist like salt plains,
mirrors of all that exists in opposition to them, we are two,
remarkable to all others because we coalesce so remarkably well.
We would make contact like the sound of breaking glass,
full of the inability to imitate. Our love like our lovemaking—
too full of excruciating detail to be remade in the same image.
I want you to put your hands where you want me to be,
in the same marginal place where my lips part, you will be,
and where you lay your head down on your hands
I stand over you, a shadow of your own. Tragic, isn’t it,
that our bodies fit so well into an impossibility,
caused by a simple universal miscalculation,
that we will not make my safe word a holy litany?
I ask you my question the way that the tides come and go—
with no expectation for change, and always the hope for it.
Do you not believe, as I, that the colors of our bloods
would dissolve pier wood, burn whole moons?
I see this scene like a voyeur, my dress hiked and my flesh bare
for you like a ribbon for a tailor:
yours to make with what you desire, in any form, as you please,
and your command moving the clay of my ribs
the way that Adam moved to make himself a man for God,
and our rigidity the most delicious texture, like salt, like pure mineral
always beneath our nails and in our shoes.
Put my love to discomfort the way people put their lips
to the sounds of their fine instruments and you will find
that I was tuned for the talents of only the best players.
We should not be able to pry ourselves from each other,
not with pliers, not with hammers, not with anything but death:
and somehow this is nothing tangible to me—
we remain nothing more than a prayer for erotic possibility.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
~ Dylan Thomas, In Country Sleep, and Other Poems (via feellng)
You would watch us die, mauled, as if in a slaughterhouse
and you would live like an accident, in disbelief of my body
ripped open to dry, like a fish, like pork, like any other meat,
of my sisters in their beds, mouths open, ribs smiling,
and you would stumble like a sober Hercules once did.
You would raise up your bloody hands, hallelujah
for the prayers you did not pray— you pray them all now.
Night settles on you, robbed man, in your heart’s apocalypse,
which you do not expect to survive now that we cannot.
Look to the stars, father of mine: there are reasons to live
that do not exist here on the earth beside you.
Take your guns and your knives and your truck, and you go
to the safest place you know of, to a desert, to an island.
Don’t raise your saving gun to your head. Though you wish
to see me as I was, I do not accept your defeat—
though you may. We two, we are made of the same salt
that moves in all oceans, though far apart may we drift.
Load the chamber of your life, despite the recoil,
knowing that torn muscle makes way for a stronger body.
You turn my body into a tissue, into gauze, into a towel
wipe your grief on my memory and then dispose of it,
like all else, it will make you sick if you let it.
Don’t let it. This is your survival.
Your twelve impossible trials are the twelve things you tell yourself
when they come for you relentlessly:
mom snoring, the twins’ CD collection, my diaries
your sister’s favorite sports teams, your mom curling her hair,
your father on his rocking chair, an abundance of roses and orchids,
our family before the massacre, when our wine glasses were intact,
when your daughters had more of a future than you.
You think all of this, if you can, and you must—
and then you take the hands that taught me to walk
and you cut their legs out from underneath them.
I wish that you were better at listening:
the world is not full of women waiting to love you as I have,
and I know that your mother loves me, but it is not enough
to be the woman that fills your bed.
I remember when your ex-girlfriend called you on our dates
and you called her mom, to hide: but she is not like I.
I will not call to quibble, I will not call to bicker, I simply will not call
I will not write you poems that document the ways
I was not written about at all.
My body is not a book of poems for you to skim,
but a library that spans more than a decade of history,
and I realized that I could not read you every story that I owned
simply because I longed to share my words.
That is not the way of love, or at least the love I’ve known:
to read your love to another is not necessarily to have it heard.
Your mother read you fairytales, and like children, you believed
but I am not like she: I cannot be the woman
who gives and who does not receive.
And this is how I’ve loved you,
in fragments and line breaks,
in ink that ran with tears.
And this is where I’ve loved you,
in the fractures of my heart,
the torn seams of my soul.
And this is when I’ve loved you,
when the seasons fell to darkness
and time faded all things to grey.
And I love you, still,
even as my heart goes silent,
and my soul withers away.
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