I agree, it’s a hot topic. But only one? Look around, there’s a wide range. Take my own, for instance.
I get up in the morning. My topic feels like hell. I sprinkle it with water, brush parts of it, rub it with towels, powder it, add lubricant. I dump in the fuel and away goes my topic, my topical topic, nearsighted topic, my topic with back problems, my badly-behaved topic, my vulgar topic, my outrageous topic, my aging topic, my topic that is out of the question and anyway still can’t spell, in its oversized coat and worn winter boots, scuttling along the sidewalk as if it were flesh and blood, hunting for what’s out there, an avocado, an alderman, an adjective, hungry as ever.
The basic Female Body comes with the following accessories: garter belt, panti-girdle, crinoline, camisole, bustle, brassiere, stomacher, chemise, virgin zone, spike heels, nose ring, veil, kid gloves, fish-net stockings, fichu, bandeau, Merry Widow, weepers, chokers, barrettes, bangles, beads, lorgnettes, feather boa, basic black, compact, Lycra stretch one-piece with modesty panel, designer peignoir, flannel nightie, lace teddy, bed, head.
The Female Body is made of transparent plastic and lights up when you plug it in. You press a button to illuminate the different systems. The Circulatory System is red, for the heart and arteries, purple for the veins; the Respiratory System is blue; the Lymphatic System is yellow ;the Digestive System is green, with liver and kidneys in aqua. The nerves are done in orange and the brain is pink. The skeleton, as you might expect, is white.
He said, I won’t have one of those things in the house. It gives a young girl a false notion of beauty, not to mention anatomy. If a real woman was built like that she’d fall on her face.
She said, If we don’t let her have one like all the other girls she’ll feel singled out. It’ll become an issue. She’ll long for one and she’ll long to turn into one. Repression breeds sublimation. You know that.
He said, It’s not just the pointy plastic tits, it’s the wardrobe. The wardrobes and the stupid male doll, what’s his name, the one with the underwear glued on.
She said, Better to get it over with when she’s young. He said, All right but don’t let me see it.
She came whizzing down the stairs, thrown like a dart. She was stark naked. Her hair had been chopped off, her head was turned back to front, she was missing some toes and she’d been tattooed all over her body with purple ink, in a scrollwork design. She hit a potted azalea, trembled there for a moment like a botched angel, and fell.
He said, I guess we’re safe.
The Female Body has many uses. It’s been used as a door-knocker, a bottle-opener, as a clock with a ticking belly, as something to hold up lampshades, as a nutcracker, just squeeze the brass legs together and out comes your nut. It bears torches, lifts victorious wreaths, grows copper wings and raises aloft a ring of neon stars; whole buildings rest on its marble heads.
It sells cars, beer, shaving lotion, cigarettes, hard liquor; it sells diet plans and diamonds, and desire in tiny crystal bottles. Is this the face that launched a thousand products? You bet it is, but don’t get any funny big ideas, honey, that smile is a dime a dozen.
It does not merely sell, it is sold. Money flows into this country or that country, files in, practically crawls in, suitful after suitful, lured by all those hairless pre-teen legs. Listen, you want to reduce the national debt, don’t you? Aren’t you patriotic? That’s the spirit. That’s my girl.
She’s a natural resource, a renewable one luckily, because those things wear out so quickly. They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Shoddy goods.
One and one equals another one. Pleasure in the female is not a requirement. Pair-bonding is stronger in geese. We’re not talking about love, we’re talking about biology. That’s how we all got here, daughter.
Snails do it differently. They’re hermaphrodites, and work in threes.
Each female body contains a female brain. Handy. Makes things work. Stick pins in it and you get amazing results. Old popular songs. Short circuits. Bad dreams.
Anyway: each of these brains has two halves. They’re joined together by a thick cord; neural pathways flow from one to the other, sparkles of electric information watching to and fro. Like light on waves. Like a conversation. How does a woman know? She listens. She listens in.
The male brain, now, that’s a different matter. Only a thin connection. Space over here, time over there, music and arithmetic in their own sealed compartments. The right brain doesn’t know what the left brain is doing. Good for aiming, though, for hitting the target when you pull the trigger. What’s the target? Who’s the target? Who cares? What matters is hitting it. That’s the male brain for you. Objective.
This is why men are so sad, why they feel so cut off, why they think of themselves as orphans cast adrift, footloose and stringless in the deep void. What void? she asks. What are you talking about? The void of the Univers,e he says, and she says Oh and looks out the window and tries to get a handle on it, but it’s no use, there’s too much going on, too many rustlings in the leaves, too many voices, so she says, Would you like a cheese sandwich, a piece of cake, a cup of tea? And he grinds his teeth because she doesn’t understand, and wanders off, not just alone but Alone, lot in the dark, lost in the skull, searching for the other half, the twin who could complete him.
Then it comes to him: he’s lost the Female Body! Look, it shines in the gloom, far ahead, a vision of wholeness, of ripeness, like a giant melon, like an apple, like a metaphor for breast in a bad sex novel; it shines like a balloon, like a foggy noon, a watery moon, shimmering in its egg of light.
Catch it. Put it in a pumpkin, in a high tower, in a compound, in a chamber, in a house, in a room. Quick, stick a leash on it, a lock, a chain, some pain, settle it down, so it can never get away from you again.
In America, there are
a few things you can
count on for being
always open: Denny’s,
Seven Eleven, the diner
that no one actually enjoys
but everyone eats at,
the only Chinese buffet
for miles, Walgreens, AA,
coffee shops filled with
insomniacs and addicts,
gas stations, Walmart,
ATMs, women, always
unlocked, always the gate
with no keeper, yes, come
on in, we’re open.
- Sierra DeMulder
Really should delete your number
but I keep it as a reminder, as some
small consolation prize that our
paths ever crossed. I miss you like
I always do and all I want to do is
call you and tell you how I spent the
day masturbating to the sound of
your voicemail but oops I shouldn’t
because you have a new girlfriend
now and you’ll probably let her listen
to this message. She probably
smells really pretty, like roses. Do
you fuck her on a bed covered in
rose petals? I wonder what your sex
is like, if you ever think my name
when you’re still inside of her. Tell
her I say hello. Tell her that she’s not
going to be able to stop everything
from falling apart. I miss your mouth
and your hands and your body but
don’t tell your girlfriend that, don’t
tell her that I miss your body moving
like a sheet against my body or that
I miss your voice oh god your voice
tell me a story tell me how I’ll regret
this in the morning, mascara ringing
my eyes and red lipstick smeared
on the mouth of the wine bottle from
telling it all of my secrets. Tell me that
I tried to be unaffected and sexy but
that I ended up calling you instead.
This is how I learned that “no”
cannot always save you. That
your hands are a prison. That
shame is something the body
becomes. It has been years since
I’ve met my own eyes in the
mirror, years since I’ve undressed
myself with the lights on. I do
not know where to put my body
when a boy looks at me like I’m
able to save him. I cross the street
and look both ways. I do not
always wear a seatbelt. I do not
like the finality of a pen. When I
dream of you and your basement
and your mouth and the shadow
of your body and the way you
said my name, like it choked you
on the way down but that you
loved the violence of it, I wake
and fumble for the light switch.
If I saw you now I probably
would not recognize you. Do you
know how terrifying that is?
I don’t say this enough but thank you all, really, thank you so much for loving me and my poems and ah I just am really so grateful for the constant messages that you send me telling me how this poem or that poem has helped you or a friend in some way. I’m working on something to show you all just how much I appreciate all of your support. Because I do. I mean, I still only write for me, but I share it because I know there are people out there that have the same struggles, feel the same things, think the same thoughts. I know what that can do for a person, reading something by someone who just gets it perfectly, exactly. Again, thank you for loving me. Or liking me. Or just barely tolerating me. Just thank you.
Learning to love my body is still
not an easy thing. I stand in front
of the mirror and trace what is
reflected back at me: long limbs,
rounded shoulders, the wheeling
nipples that hang from my breasts,
rose-brown. I curl a lock of dark
hair around my finger and tug hard
on it. I wrap it around my neck like
a scarf. Like hanging wire. Is this
how I’d want them to find me?
Naked, suffocated from too much
hair, too much me? He tells me that
I am beautiful, that I am his favorite
address, that if he could he’d crawl
right up inside me and die there.
I don’t think I could handle it, being
a grave for two. There is already so
much. The magazines say: reduce,
erase, minimize, blur. We are not
beautiful until we disappear.
I remember buying groceries with you;
remember how we’d pick out dinner
together for each night of the week.
Usually we made pasta, or you’d want
things to make sandwiches, soup. If
we had extra money we’d buy things
for fondue. When I go to the store
now, I try not to think of you as I walk
the aisles, try not to think about how
you’d pick up an apple or a head of
lettuce with the kind of reverence you
usually reserved for my body. I try not
to think about you framed in the fresh
produce section or among the cheeses
or the refrigerated pizza dough. When
I stand in line at the deli, a ticket in my
hand, I can’t help but to think of all
those women before me who stood in
line, waiting to be called, wanting to
save you and thinking that they could.
How you used my body to hide all of your secrets. I am still afraid to look.
After Carrie Wittmer
1. Google could probably spell
that for you.
2. I hate that you only text me
when you’re drunk and that I get
drunk just to text you back.
3. Be honest: does this make me
4. I loved you for all of a split
5. I Googled our astrology
compatibility and realized
we’d be a complete disaster.
6. If I wanted to talk to you I
would have replied an hour
7. Stop wink-facing me. What
does that even mean?
8. Have you ever thought about
me while masturbating?
9. I called you and your girlfriend
answered and now I’m pretty
sure she thinks we’re fucking.
10. Just to be clear, I’d never
sleep with you.
11. Do you even know what
a library is?
12. Why are we even friends.
13. That time you butt-dialed
me as as you were breaking up
with your girlfriend.
14. Please delete my number.
15. You make me so sad.
16. I wish I cared more, but
Happy Hour at Starbucks is
more important than you.
Today was good. The sky was blue and the air was clean and I spent some time outside and felt the grass dig into my palms, felt the earth press in hard against my back. Funny how the body knows where its roots are, how it knows when you need to go back to them.
There was a lot of talk about love and doing what you have to and taking care of yourself and a friend of mine read my palm today and told me my life line was in good shape and I think that’s because I’m learning not to let love or affection make such a monster out of me. I’m learning.
Write his name onto
a piece of paper until
both sides are full and
the letters could be a
part of anyone’s name.
Write his name until
they are just letters
with no meaning. It will
be difficult to see why
you loved that
combination of vowels
and syllables so much.
When you begin to
remember, burn it.
Accept the unacceptable: he is not
coming back. You did all that you could
and he is not coming
back. Delete his number from your
contact list, scrub his fingerprints from
your face, your hair; wipe
clean the imprint of his body against
yours. Find a new hobby. Learn how to
care for a garden or join your
neighbor’s book club. Accept the
unacceptable: he is not thinking about
you. You are the last thought
in his mind, you are a billion light-
years away, you are the newest planet
they found: KOI-172.02.
Accept the unacceptable: his girlfriend
is prettier than you. It is not something
he realized until
after, but it’s done now and the first
time you see them together after, you
compare yourself to her,
and then call your mother for
reassurance. Try to forget the way he
made you feel all burned out
and exhausted, like you couldn’t keep
up. Forget how he kissed you, how
sometimes he would
look at you and you’d give up anything
anything anything for that look, even
your own sanity.
Accept the unacceptable: you are
better off without him. There were
nights where he refused
to touch you on claims that he was too
tired, too not in the mood. Remember
finding that phone
number inked onto the back of a
stained napkin, buried deep into his
pocket that Saturday morning
you decided to do laundry. Remember,
remember, remember: You are not
meant to be together.
You are not puzzle pieces designed to
fit perfectly. When he tries to call you,
do not pick up. Erase
his message before listening to it. You
cannot save him. You are not the first
that has tried. You
will not be the last.