Electric Lit relies on contributions from our readers to help make literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive. Please support our work by becoming a member today, or making a one-time donation here.
…I was not a mistake is what my humanity thinks, I cannot
else than this body…
— Jorie Graham, from “Embodies”
Alone, spring cleaning, homekeeping, feeling feelings, it starts hailing, drifting pillars plinthing terra cotta pots on the front porch like the forts of malicious little elves. No doubt the palm will die. The fern will die. The succulents might live, fat tough tender bitter little camel plants. Chilly springtime apprehension: I actually believe that were I either more or less succulent you would want me more, but being only more-or-less succulent you want me less. Do all women think this? — succulence ambivalent “in today’s society” as my students say. Elf-shot, star-eyed like a manga girl, solidly early-mid-thirties, alternately lacking and over-abundant in succulence, solitaire is not better, but it’s less worse. I feel less bad writing mean small verse like this, sleek seal barking I I I I I. I feel less bad naked making faces in the mirrored window under the dismayed gaze of only hail, painting, for the first time in fifteen years, my nails. In the wide world, a lady’s or a ghost’s appearance: fleeting interference. Nightfall: the huge low wan moon like a woman’s belly and my heart in my body a cold calm grey clam, blind pretty pearl-dark many blue-eyed ugly one-foot thing. You’re lovely, you said, on a loop in my head; I’m lovely enough, I get it done. Next time you feel the hot flush of shame, think: how much more can you take of it? A lot, I bet, before you die of it. Try it. That’s what being female is like.
I am shame and boldness.
I am shameless; I am ashamed.
— from the Thunder, Perfect Mind
He’s a hard drinker, and a hard worker. He’s hard. And when he’s here he’s hard, and when he’s not I watch The Wire (fat bass and splatter patterns and pussy) and want shoots through, vein of water through colder water. However: in public: at a club: we don’t touch. Remotely, checking texts, we don’t speak or blink, too busy dreaming things to do with lips and hands and tongue and hips. You thump. You yell, How dumb, but what’s dumb, I can’t tell. It’s loud. You stunt. I melt. You pun. What old news we are, most ancient and most boring story: They circled — he purpled — she lushed out. Lost on the long road of body, I’m in control until I’m not, hard left, steep drop. Some pressure system, some weather coming, the bowl of hail I have at home (for whom, if not for you?) turned to dirty water. Mazed, drenched, plucked string, gutbucked, feigning boredom: all the while my mouth in my mind is limned with your cum. Oh my creature nature! — oh my baser butcher, my lower lever, gone honor, never lover, please impose. What’s over? — please advise. Don’t ghost just yet, don’t jet, two fingers templed in relieved goodbye (that tense salute only men do), come back, come by. Both floored, who now can wreck the wall of cant? — we can’t, we set it up, we sealed us off, and now, what’s done?, I’m gone, it’s not a crush, it’s not enough, I want I want I want I want I want I want I want. Watching The Wire with great desire: come at me, motherfucker. I’m on my knees and I’m not going anywhere.
…Living as he does much of the time in a world of metaphor, the poet is always acutely conscious that metaphor has no value apart from its function; that it is a device, an artifice. […] It is the only useful purpose they do serve in society: and if every poet were to vanish tomorrow, society would live no longer than the quick memories and dead books of their poetry.
— Thomas Pynchon, from V.
Before you go, here: clasp me dearer. For seven years up and down the Puget Sound I have followed you, beauty, your splendid heart a live coal chasmically perched. Look up for a moment: what are you seeing, where have you taken me? Is it treasured? Will you tell me? Know with the slow intelligence of lichen that what we feel between us is grounded, locable, occurred at this fungal chorus, this fairy ring, this sound water slapped with light. As harbor seals are undeterred by the filth of the city, you can find me, always, right here. As scolding gull and scolding crow dart among the needled maws of pines, mottled oxblood-pistachio of the doomed, dermatological madrona, all saying: stay: and knowing we won’t; the dark truth is it’s all part of us, pillar of logs by the dock bound with I don’t know what, fawn running from I don’t know what, vexed wasp eternally circling for sweetness. When we give ourselves to each other, the ceaseless struggle not to cringe away with suppliant eyes saying, Forgive this incident, oh, trust, love, don’t I know it — but it’s not worth it. I’m not ashamed of needing you as much as I do, and I do: when I say I love you, I mean you, you. Now: take my fingertip in your mouth. Can you taste the sap and fur and urchin spine and salt and rock and rust of the wild-for-to-hold northwest? Kissing-close the moment of closing; we’re still here together for now, dual oysters tonguing our precious grit. Trace your hands along this spine. We’ll fold us closed to end it.