Experiment #71: When it rains, you might notice a collage of confetti’d water altering your view. Walk toward your nearest window. Preferably the one beneath the hardest-working cloud. Stitch your eyes into one of the drops collecting your attention. What colors do you see? Green. Faded red. How cold is the window and how does your body react when you touch it?
Remember that time you cried so hard that one of your lungs pushed its way up to beneath your rib cage and your chest grew taller? And your breaths felt as though they were imprisoned or housed inside a barred fist. It was springtime. Remember? And everyone around you was dry. It’s like your body had become this cloud of salt raining over your limbs.
Beneath the curtains of your body is every weather pattern that ever existed and a hybrid of several that we aren’t used to seeing together. Open that window. I know it’s cold; yes, it is wet too. But just slide it up and scream out your weather pattern. Scream out your temperature. Your precipitation. Allow the air to breathe you in.
Can we call this a loose number? If we derive from digestion and blood vessels, can you carve me an ore out of your ink’d teeth. I need to paddle now. Even in reservoir with blow-up kayak (dirty and illegal), I need to feel wave beneath my bones and chase the swirl of fish beside my gentle stroke of movement. I have relapsed off red lipstick and hidden knees that I know, I know, are far more pulchritudinous than even the moon: my lover of three decades. Kazim, I am unraveled. Can you write me a prescription for a good hem. Things grow slowly on me and when you remind me of peace within bites of communal gatherings, I still want to ask you to footnote that. Did something happen? The thing is, my wrists are hungry and yesterday’s morning was extracted from loose sky exhaling water’s crumbs and stirred chocolate and coffee and everyone is calling themselves a writer now. How about I just label myself as syllables.
We are made from salt and this ocean that shakes the warmth from my toes is waved and briny. There is so much to stare at when the Atlantic is just steps away and yet what I find myself noticing are the bodies. They are tanned and leathery and flat and fat and thick. They are bikini’d and shirtless and covered and sandy. I cannot help but stare at a woman with an extremely small waist and wide hips jutting out of her body like two fleshy waterfalls. Her bathing suit is small and everything is left out to be noticed…so I notice.
I recognize that I am covered. Jean shorts with sand already wedged in each pocket and my black sports bra is beneath thin black tank top and part of me wants to take my shirt off and be completely bare like the tanned male lifeguard and part of me wants a body so blurry, no one could ever tell what I should be wearing.
Old women in sun hats and cellulite are so beautiful in their aged skin because they do not need to flaunt evidence of a gym membership. They are loose and lusty.
Man in tiny bathing suit, which barely covers what is required to be covered, walks around with cigarette weaved between two fingers. I watch his cheeks collapse with each heavy inhale. He is hairy everywhere but on his head.
When I am in the water, I lift my arms and like the sodium-drenched air sticking to my underarm hair. I feel the crushed shells beneath my cracked heels. Seaweed fondles my calves. I jump waves and make eye contact with the sun as it attempts to burn more freckles into my skin.
This island gets crowded as the afternoon settles in. I sit on a borrowed blanket with my dad and nephew as we eat homemade lunch. Bites are occasionally interrupted by shards of sand and I like the way this beach tastes.
At some point, I remove my shirt. I am not bikini’d; I do not own a bathing suit. My sports bra flattens what I do not want to call attention to. I am neither fit nor fat; my body just exists as a canvas of scars and tattoos, which is its own language of poetics.
Here, we can lay out or jump waves and be free without fear of excess or imperfections. On this island, we are New York City because we are the spectrum of so many. Even if I do not see another body that looks like mine, I am here and I am representing this form.
Maybe someone else is noticing my differences, which allows them to celebrate their own.
Do you know how many offerings of blue there are in the sky? I call them offerings because these hues arrive and they remain as a gift to our sight. There are many things that we forget to notice, such as what exists beneath our feet or the vast field of water’s reflection above us.
Kazim, there is a red hook. It exists in a watermarked area of Brooklyn. My soul sister and I follow the trail of salt and orange-scented horizon welcoming in the evening. Our toes twist into strands of grass that tickle and tease our summer calluses.
Here is where I collect thoughts. I ignore the scab on my shoulder from the weight of things I carry from borrowed home to borrowed home and feel gratitude toward the one who holds me on a night I feel my insides attempting an escape. I’ve been carving love letters to Brooklyn into benches and brick walls. I haven’t received anything back or perhaps I have……I’ve no mailbox anymore.
Let’s call this color squashed blueberry or sorrow’s lust. This sky is our rooftop and suddenly I feel home.
It’s all in the way that you stand. You can choose to chase the fall or risk burnt shoulders and fall asleep beneath the sun’s smother. I’ve got the Hamza River on my side. I play hide-n-go-seek with its depth. I tap its tender water and bathe away all that loneliness echoing against body. 13,000 feet beneath Amazon River and you can find me holding my breath long enough to uncover secrets. When you are ready, meditate on what arrived to make you pack up so quickly. I’ve rid my life of suitcases; I’m attempting to remain. Darling, when you think of me, can you ring? Can you flap your bones toward my river? I’ve got four shadows. There is an omen hidden in the splash. Rocks and sea glass wait for your eyes, which is deeper than brown and more like mirror’d earth. I can only float for so long; the weight of this paper against body splinters. There is a waterproof map, a steering wheel, some empty bottles and my hands. All of this waits for your hold.
Walk the beach long enough and you will find a shell with a peep hole and when you bring it to your hazel or blue or grey or spotted-owl-brown, you will see beyond ocean and fog. You will add this shell to the others, collected on a Monday when trauma trips you almost off this earth and a human arrives with an overripe banana and a bottle of water and a car, wheezing from lack of gasoline. There is no driftwood on this beach, but your eyes find bits of animal and ghosts of storm from months before. Your feet are nude and ankles too as questions arrive like how can love carve so many scars on our bodies and how can we breathe when loss is like a subway collapsing on lungs and all this is part of life but what parts of life are meant to make you want to remain. A big enough shell can be used as a soap dish or to hold quarters for laundry or as a ladle for thick soup or rice. That curved branch left all alone over there can be used to hold things like toilet paper or discarded love notes. The water is too cold but so is life, so you jump in with clothes on because the shyness on your skin is too scratched up to be seen. All this can be used for something else. You are offered a souvenir of black-and-white magnet of this day and it sticks to your refrigerator of the time you almost drowned. You think of the ocean as your body: salt, loss, death, wave, deepness, peed in, grainy and dangerous. You want to crawl toward its bottom to find a way out. On the way out, you notice the seagulls and fall in love with their aggression; you are jealous of their flight. Home is many avenues and city blocks away but you’ve got all these shells to crush into your skin like armor. Sometimes life is about one day and how to get into it and how to move through it.
“The rocks. They carry the chronology of water. All things simultaneously living and dead in your hands.” —Lidia Yuknavitch
There was that time I ate darkness. Choked on the bones and swallowed the shadows of fascia. There is marrow in these walls and they can be confused for rock or congealed strangles. Carve away the gypsum board, lick out the asbestos with fearless tongue and wait for the numb to arrive in waves. Swim inside the secrets of this wall. Study the ghosts; ask them where their names derive from. Lose skin from loose nails, scraping away the cells of your childhood. Do not mourn for wounds; they are meant to be a vessel for newness to occur. Find yourself in water. Question its smell but not its origin. This is the perfume of rot. Embrace the pain of a comfortable drown. Pretend it is possible to melt away the parts least preferred. There is no gender in these walls. Body is blank, blurred and deconstructed; so what do you want to be now? Lose yourself in beams. Find meaning in the knotted wood. Dark patches like freckles or moles or reminders that sun has wronged you. There is no weather inside these walls, nor is there an Internet connection, so who will you tell about this. And if you keep it concealed, does this journey still exist?