* * * * * *
'All I can think about is fucking.' Whisper putters, body stutters. Desperation + perspiration = adulteration. I mean, we are adults.
Winter licks my skin ruthlessly. Autumn lies uselessly on the couch. Spring is missing and Summer is kissing her pillow. (I do hope you are jealous as all get out.)
I find December in the kitchen. Wearing a simple white shift with little embroidered flowers. ‘Added by November,’ she admits ruefully. ‘I’ve never had a steady hand.’
You find me. Milky legs and coal heart, by the hearth. Yes, I still use the word hearth. And a heart of the earth beats in my head (between my legs). Did I say that out loud?
I mean all of it. I like it when it snows, even better when it pours. Stop looking at me like that—you know what it is.
I will not call you dear(/deer), but I will call you fox.
My loving is a box of chocolates. Your hands will be messy and I’ll melt before you meant it (not it) and you must chew and suck and contort your face and make such noises. (Please, mother, don’t read this.)
Desiring~wanting~hungering~fucking~(…there’s that word again.)
Yes, fox, if you must know, I am licking my lips.
* * * * * *
are married. You know this. You were at their wedding. What they say
should land as if your dad said it, or your brother. None of it means harm:
the way you look in a pair of jeans, how long your lipstick lasts, how good
the oysters are, how fresh. Married men are the lead characters in the movie
of their marriage. They share top billing, but have earned their solo screen time.
I mean how else do you really get to know them, they say, if you don’t see
how they are without their wives? The long curve of their arms, or calves,
where their hands rest: on hips, or elbows, on waists. Married men lean forward
when they smile, and lean back when they laugh. After the party, they roam
the kitchen, offer to share with you a plate of re-heated hors d’oevres. You see it:
the still life of some other woman’s man, barefoot and drunk, hungry and alone.
The cat hisses at him. It’s his wife’s cat. It hates him, and for the life of him,
he can’t figure out why.
Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz
"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget."
From my hips to my lips and back again
sweep side to side, sweep up sentiments that sleep like dust, cleaning leftovers from love. My hips
sway like a ship,
back and forth, free on the sea, caught on the sea, a memory from the sea
—do you see?
I feel in my hips
mirrors in my hips, rests in my flesh. My hips
echo the wolf’s call, you feel my rounded aloneness, soft like the night, downy like fur.
My hips are a solitary creature. My hips are a hungry thing.
And a fall. My hips are a fall
this fall in the fall to fall and fall and never land
in Neverland. In never sky you also found me, my hips ground in the dirt—earthbound—but
My lips fly. Perennially undressed of niceties, ethereally naked with wanting (and wanton).
My lost lips list uselessly, lilt useless lists
never here never there never anywhere
but with you [and your kiss]
my lips exist between doors, between words, between worlds, between forms
My lips speak in tongues.
No, that isn’t right.
My lips listen in tongues.
Yes, that is (what’s) left.
My lips lie. Boldly and on their sides and in the bed and in my head—
needed and kneaded, my doughy, dusty, dallying lips. Freshly baked lips, fluffy as
The clouds and then the dirt
and back again.
Take the dips and the nips
and back again.
"You, dead, are so much better than anyone else alive."
Winter nudges Summer until he falls out of bed.
"Oomph," he laughs, "that hurt." He punctuates the statement by pulling her down with him, ignoring her chapped hands, ignoring the way it burns wherever they touch. And touch. And touch and touch and touch.
Spring and Fall overhear them from downstairs (underhear them?) while Spring sips her floral tea and Fall swallows his creamless, sugarless coffee. They pass sideways glances back and forth, but no words bounce around the cold morning kitchen. Spring fidgets uncomfortably, tugging on her sundress, two sizes too big. Fall grunts to cover the upstairs noise, splaying his legs out more, spilling his coffee out more.
Nipping kisses. Ear bites. Explorer fingers (Columbus fingers, Magellan fingers, Ponce de Leon fingers). Do you think I’m pretty? Yes yes yes.
You’re so cold. You’re so warm.
Do they know? No. Yes. How could they not?
I like you, I really really like you.
Sunkisses. Frostbites. Love and life are not words that exist here.
Spring is caught staring by Fall, a blush creeps across her face, the color of a blooming flower or a sunrise, Aurora’s rosy fingers trailing across her cheeks. Fall broods, as he always does. Summer laughs heartily, throatily, bodily at him while Winter only appraises him with her perceptive eyes, frozen blue. Her opinions rarely move. The pair (the couple? the every other ones?) had joined the breakfast table and now sit in their respective places, apart. Separated, separate.
"How were your mornings?" Spring asks, marionette eyebrows raised.
"Fine." They (that elusive two) answer at the same time.
"Uh-huh." Fall smirks.
The four spend their day (one day, split four ways) doing their respective duties. (How vague, how strange, monotony then monogamy.) They retire for bed promptly at eight, after a quiet dinner of quiet inquiries and quiet answers with quiet hopes. “Stop being so goddamn quiet,” Summer always snaps, snapdragon in his mouth. When he smiles, Winter smells it, she smells a meadow sulky with heat.
"Never," she says, two shards slicing for the two syllables.
Spring and Fall never say anything (always say nothing) because they know that even though in the cycle, they are not in this.
"Goodnight, Fall." (Always hopeful, full of life that hasn’t yet fallen.)
“‘Night, Spring.” (Good is not a word in his vocabulary.)
(A pause, a beat, he repeats.)
"Hey… would you like to come in?"
She runs her lips over her teeth indulgently. “Only for a little while.”
"I am to take mademoiselle to the moon, and there I shall seek a cave in one of the white valleys among the volcano-tops, and mademoiselle shall live with me there, and only me."
I am quiet. I can’t remember if I have always been this way, but I am quiet now. The silence seems to have washed over me after years and years. When I am angry, I don’t say anything. For days, I will sing my voice to sleep. Usually I find that not many people notice. The world is so full of people wanting to be heard that another voice fills up my space so easily. In my mind I wonder if I have any kind of claim to another person’s attention, and I realize that maybe I don’t. The space in my brain is all I have, really. And if someone wants to eke out the first notes of speech back from within me, they do try. My senses do what they want to. My legs sometimes wake up in the dark hollow part of the night when everyone breathes in tandem, and they take me adventuring to secret hideaways. I wake up with dirt on my hands and an ache in my bones. Everything becomes louder when you stop speaking. You’ll hear it all. You’ll hear a bee desperately searching for honey from all those flowers you’ve taken away. You’ll hear a child dreaming. You’ll hear frequencies that you’ve been drowning out. And I tell you know, it will be really difficult to send your voice away. There will be a push to your push. But you have to experience the totality of that quiet, the blackness of it. You have to be pulled in by that kind of gravity. You’ll have to close your eyes and just feel the rest of the world just humming, waiting its turn. One day, someone will notice. Someone will look at you and their eyebrows will furrow in curiosity. They will ask you something without asking anything. Let your quiet speak for you.
"I practice kissing other boys and do not tell you.
I do not wash my hair sometimes for three or four days.
You are probably so tired of all the cigarette smoke,
the mugs full of tea setting cold on the counter,
my inability to put my clothes away after wearing them,
how I am so heavy-footed that you can’t make cakes
when I am home. If you asked me I would tell you
that yes, I am faking it, but you never do so we continue
living as we live. Dancing around each other
but never close enough to touch. We are a fire-hazard,
the little pieces that come with toy sets, not for swallowing.
My hands do not smell like my own. I try on wedding dresses
and then cry in the changing room. The truth is I love you.
What I am trying to say is that I never want to see you again."
She falls into bed and finds him there. Winter has left frostbites all over his neck and when her tongue licks over them, they burn. He is on fire. Burning up, singeing her clothes, leaving red marks of scorched devotion, her skin is marred and branded. Mother would not be happy. Why do you let Winter touch you here? She hasn’t even officially arrived. He laughs and rolls her over. He kisses her everywhere except the mouth, burning and blistering and bruising. He winks then whispers, tickling her eyes, tickling her ears. You love me most. She knows he may not love her most, knows this is a game one plays with ice on one’s tongue. She parts her lips and swallows a season. I love you first and more and ever and after.
(after Catherynne M. Valente.)
You will never learn and he will never listen. You will wear the pale dress and you will be the most beautiful thing he has ever seen. You will speak together without tongues, without sound, with music but without instruments. You will fall in love. You will fall into bed with him first, you will fall on the ground before that. You will have dirt under your fingernails and the taste of apple in your mouth. You will wear the locket of black hair around your neck and it will hang in a noose. You will always want to marry him, you never will. You will always rummage through the past, leaving your fingerprints all over him. You will never own him. You will always lose him but you will always have him first. You will always carry nostalgia on your back, fire in your eyes, and a caged bird in your throat. “You have already done all of this and will do it again.”
"You will always go into that tent. You will see her scar and wonder where she got it. You will always be amazed at how one woman can have so much black hair. You will always fall in love, and it will always be like having your throat cut, just that fast. You will always run away with her. You will always lose her. You will always be a fool. You will always be dead, in a city of ice, snow falling into your ear. You have already done all of this and will do it again."
Lonely hearts ad:
18 Y/O female
reads and withers and waxes and wanes
moon flower, many thorns
looking for a Mr. Rochester who never leaves home without his sardonic smile
wit with a bite
fairytale beast (wolf), darkness like a duster (cowboy),
restless nomad (pirate)
must appreciate baked goods, quiet days, freedom, and Disney movies
(non-storytellers need not apply; un-storytellers welcome)