dear rebel (with regards to dressing the dead)

Dear Rebel,

Here is what you asked of me. You asked me to think about love. Then a body without dressing. Then death. Then words to send this person out with.

I think of gauze. The word and the cloth.

I think of a handkerchief to sop up the salt coming from me. Dripping onto the body. Creating a reflection of water one could not possibly swim in, but a lifeguard will still be needed to catch the ones who try.

I think of a zipper. To hold in what tries to flee.

“Be still,” I will say, even though there is nowhere for a body to move when it is no longer living. “Be still as I dictionary your skin.”

[I use this noun as a verb because it feels more like an action to inscribe every word and its meaning onto flesh that may no longer breathe, but it listens. It may no longer respond, but it imprints.]

“Be still,” I repeat once more.

I think of blood. I think of all the blood I extracted from my body. Wasted it onto bandages and hiding places. Now, I can’t even donate what I’ve got; it’s too tarnished and tongue-tied.

I think of that time I went with a friend when she wanted to donate her blood. I was jealous that hers was better than mine. Afterward, she let me eat the cookie and drink the juice they gave to her. I still have that pin, shaped as a drop of blood, that she gave me after giving.

I think of my friend, the oil painter named Lindsay, who asked me what is really meant by “the one” when love is mentioned. She questioned the validity of a soul mate. I think we have many ones….the ones who mate with our souls in that moment. And when they are gone, we change. And when we meet another, they become the one for that time.

I think that some moments last thirty-seven years or just two years or just a few hours.

 

***

Dear Rebel, we are meant to write. We are meant to wake up writing. We are meant to wake up questioning this as well.

When I was in Nebraska, I thought about all the ways I’ve been hiding myself. I took drugs. I had promiscuous sex. I lied. I denounced. I painted my skin in toxicity in order to scare away the ones who wanted to breathe against me. In Nebraska, I tried a different pattern of breathing. In Nebraska, I learned how to play brave. In Nebraska, I dictionary’d my soul.

I also think of music in the key of C minor.

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