Body with a Body
[shrug] “It’s the unknown,” she said.
It’s just the unknown.
Knocked knees, and other
cultural symbols of nervousness and crush.
For all the wrongness of age,
she lifts this cocktail, see,
it’s just a short story with
no time-shape to wrap a line around.
She gives this man a look he likes.
It’s so east coast —
The city, she was in her twenties
and her shoes were used but well-maintained.
Work fell in her lap and lovers made and made.
The morning of a milonga
a man would pick her up and take her to the marina.
His older eyes would size her up, she liked it,
and she’d hum on boats and
he’d hold her close and lead.
He’d say she’s beautiful and feminine, which she didn’t like as much,
but her lips rubbed off so neatly.
So, adulthood equals work and sex
and every dignity of dating
men a couple decades older
or a couple zeroes greater.
Remember being seventeen,
and crushing on your boyfriend’s father?
Wrote a couple songs about it,
let him dip her head in water.
A doctor, he touched her breasts to reassure her:
yes, they’ll weigh you down,
poor little spine.
And then a couple years went by,
and, sick, he laid in starched white beds.
She sent a card, she visited:
She crawls above the trundle but under the sheets,
comforts this man who
then recovers, then divorces,
“If there’s a sultry lip that could be bitten, but maybe shouldn’t,
all the sweeter.”
Her legs uncross and cross again,
the little friction in between makes
sparks like stockings static in dry cold.
She sets the glass base down lightly to gaze
nowhere and think:
The last time was a question to a younger friend:
“Do you ever think about…?”
“Yes, all the time…”
and the face-touch that could be familiar
was soft and queer and a little bit secret:
a little bit bite and shh,
a little bit touch and shh.
She wanted arms and legs and hair
and warmth and being there,
but quietude — roles reversed,
he said no and she got scared.
The power question can be left unanswered.
Will he cover my mouth as I gasp?, she wonders,
Will he pin me back down when I try to get up?
She wonders the quickness of his instincts
and how those piercing eyes will look laid out sideways,
destroyed and not ready to come again yet,
blown and softened but still perceptive.
In what ways will our legs tangle when they’re
laid out yarn and undone?
She thinks no other lover then,
heel at the barstool,
spinning just a little.
Every body she’s ever had,
with a different shoe,
and a different chair,
and a different finger twirling a different curl,
every one’s been touched, made best sense of, then transformed.
Impressed on by another body,
and every time a different story
and every breast a different trauma,
She wonders, how will this groin smell?
She wants her breasts to disappear or change
before he traces curves with them.
The weight! She slouches for a reason.
Not just curling over beveled glass
to coyly replicate a model’s slough of postured hollow-body-ism,
but to less-embolden breasts
and call observant eyes to
chin, and style,
her own biting eyes,
and what she has to say and how she says it,
playful looks and invitations,
things that barely take a body
things to practice sans a mirror
There’s only one way to gain a body and it’s
with one. She knows this.
The question is
What’s the new place she will find herself
What will her nipples point at
and how will they be pressed
and where does he want to kiss me next?
“How is it,” he asks, “you know
your body and its needs so?
“it wasn’t a choice,”
her finger at his waist.
How does one take a self
sloughed from another story
but summoned like an itch,
some heavy self or longed-for ease,
when every conversation dials in another?
She’ll never know, and this accepts
like butter to a warming pan.
She’ll touch and taste, remember, find desire where she can.