by essayan hart
Yesterday I must have met up with you here, in Wilmington, NC, in a friend’s driveway. We have been cooking, stacking the dishes perfectly. Every social error on my part is under your scrutiny. I stack the plates too high. I laugh too loud. I see you growing thinner, counting not calories but moments in motion, You’ve gone for a run again, and I am curled up over my coffee. Kristin comes into the kitchen to ask me what the hell I am thinking. I breathe in deeply, wishing I still smoked cigarettes.
Today, in the ocean, I am talking to g-d. I get stronger as I submit my body over wave after wave. When the ocean throws me from my board, tumbles me beneath the wave and invites me to humility, I come up laughing. I am a beast again. You, the great teacher, study the waves like a scientist, never quite catching her drift.
I know it might be foolish of me to offer advice. But Kristin, up on the beach, taught me to surf in these same waves a year or so ago, and I am inspired, humbled, stupid and wet. I approach. Coming near you when you are challenged by any task is an invitation for punishment. You snap at me, make the same mistake, again and again, and will not even consider heeding or hearing my advice. You remind me again that I am a terrible listener, and that I do not understand your needs. I walk back to shore laughing to myself.
I am breathing in again, watching you from a distance, like a father watches a child. I am sun soaked and sore, beaten by my own sweet gods, and humored by yours. The sun starts to slip from the sky, and you run, like an experimental movie, in an endless loop of failure. In the morning you take me running, and remind me that my body scares you. You are thin and strong. Completely in control. I am behind you, trying to keep enough air in my lungs. You press on, and eventually I run home alone.
That afternoon, I tattoo the word acceptance on my arm. A man tells me that it wont do me any good, but I make the gesture anyway, considering those experiments with crystals and glasses of water that all the teenage philosophers are going on about.
Back in New York, in a cafe, I let you teach me a card game. You repeat the rules again and again, but I need you to change your approach. I don’t understand. I know this will be a problem. It is winter, and your hair is wet from the shower. When you erupt into rage, I circle the block a few times before realizing that you will get sick walking home alone.
When we breathe in at the same time, when you grow young and broken and real in my arms, I know god for moments. I see you. Before your fathers belt, before you ever raised your voice to me. Just another hungry animal, leaning out for love. I hold you then, when your hair is dry, and you are clam and forgetful. You try so hard. We scratch at god inside each others bodies until she sings us both to sleep. When I wake, you are sitting with her quietly. One candle is lit, and there is no light in the room. I imagine that you have transformed. For a moment we are sacred again.
I am in our ocean. I submit my body, wave after wave. We begin the day with god, end in fragments. Every day, we live… tikkun olam, the reclaiming, the recollecting. When she takes me from you, when I have learned my lessons, my one weakness is in looking back.
There, in an endless loop, you lift your body and fall.