I want you to devolve, become less than human.
I do not crave the softer, the more refined.
I want an absurd, disgusted flourish of
romanticism that looks more like
civilization retreating in
shock. I want you to sink in the
filth of the body so you never wash
my musk off your skin.
I want you to deteriorate into a
foul mouth so when you run your prickly
tongue against your aching teeth, you
might—by chance—suck on a bit of
food I prepared for you.
I want the strange creature
in you to writhe within his bones
when you pick up my scent, to drag his
jaw against the marked ground I walk
upon, nostrils flared and lips wet.
It only seems fair—
this crude, intrinsic love. After all, I
am no longer shy, inhibited girl,
I am animal.
All the kisses I’ve ever been given, today I feel them on my mouth. And my knees feel them, the reckless ones placed there through the holes in my jeans while I sat on a car hood or a broken sofa in somebody’s basement, stoned, the way I was in those days, still amazed that boys and even men would want to lower their beautiful heads like horses drinking from a river and taste me. The back of my neck feels them, my hair swept aside to expose the nape, and my breasts tingle the way they did when my milk came in after the birth, when I was swollen, and sleepless, and my daughter fed and fed until I pried her from me and laid her in her crib. Even the chaste kisses that brushed my cheeks, the fatherly ones on my forehead, I feel them rising up from underneath the skin of the past, a delicate, roseate rash; and the ravishing ones, God, I think of them and the filaments in my brain start buzzing crazily and flare out. Every kiss is here somewhere, all over me like a fine, shiny grit, like I’m a pale fish that’s been dipped in a thick swirl of raw egg and dragged through flour, slid down into a deep skillet, into burning. Today I know I’ve lost no one. My loves are here: wrists, eyelids, damp toes, all scars, and my mouth pouring praises, still asking, saying kiss me; when I’m dead kiss this poem, it needs you to know it goes on, give it your lovely mouth, your living tongue.
1. Spit it into her voice-mail, a little slurred and sounding like the shot whiskey you downed for courage. Feel as ashamed as you do walking into work in last night’s clothes. Wake up cringing for days, waiting for her to mention it.
2. Sigh it into her mouth, wedged in between teeth and tongues. Don’t even let your lips move when you say it, ever so lightly, into the air. Maybe it was just an exhalation of ecstasy.
3. Buy her flowers. Buy her chocolate. Buy her a teddy bear, because that’s what every romantic comedy has taught you. Take her out to a nice restaurant where neither of you feel comfortable and spend the whole night clearing your throat and tugging at your tie. Feel like your actions are more suited to a proposal than the simple confession of something you’ve always known.
4. Whisper it into her hair in the middle of the night, after you’ve counted the space between her breaths and are certain she’s asleep. Shut your eyes quickly when she shifts toward you in askance. Maybe you were just sleep whispering.
5. Blurt it out in the middle of an impromptu dance party in the kitchen, as clumsy as your two left feet. When time seems to freeze, hastily tack on “in that shirt” or “when you make your award-winning meatballs” or, if you are feeling particularly brave, “when we do this.” Resume dancing and pretend you don’t feel her eyes on you the rest of the night.
6. Write her a letter in which the amount of circumnavigating and angst could rival Mr. Darcy’s. Debate where to leave it all day – on her pillow? In her coat pocket? Throw it away in frustration, conveniently leaving it face up in the trashcan, her name scrawled on the front in your sloppy handwriting. Let her wonder if you meant it.
7. Wait until something terrible has happened and you can’t not tell her anymore. Wait until she almost gets hit by a car crossing Wabash against the light and after you are done cursing at the shit-for-brains cab drivers in this city, realize you are actually just terrified of living without her. Tell her with your hands shaking.
8. Say it deliberately, your tongue a springboard for every syllable. Over coffee, brushing your teeth side-by-side, as you turn off the light to go to sleep – it doesn’t matter where. Do not adorn it with extra words like “I think” or “I might.” Do not sigh heavily as if admitting it were a burden instead of the most joyous thing you’ve ever done. Look her in the eyes and pray, heart thumping wildly, that she will turn to you and say, “I love you too.”
I want to locate a bit of you, cradle it,
say: this, there is no word for this.
— Jeffrey McDaniel, from “The Offer”
sofia coppola and marc jacobs for vogue paris
After you flew across the country we
got in bed, laid our bodies
delicately together, like maps laid
face to face, East to West, my
San Francisco against your New York, your
Fire Island against my Sonoma, my
New Orleans deep in your Texas, your Idaho
bright on my Great Lakes, my Kansas
burning against your Kansas your Kansas
burning against my Kansas, your Eastern
Standard Time pressing into my
Pacific Time, my Mountain Time
beating against your Central Time, your
sun rising swiftly from the right my
sun rising swiftly from the left your
moon rising slowly from the left my
moon rising slowly from the right until
all four bodies of the sky
burn above us, sealing us together,
all our cities twin cities,
all our states united, one
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
— Sharon Olds, “Topography”