Cataloguing: The Bodies Who Live Here 3/24/18
1. One silky loud orange tabby cat I begged chris to let me have one fall when newly pregnant, the most precocious I ever have known— wild, murderous and both deeply annoying with his penchant for announcing himself at all hours of day and night, and insistently affectionate, demanding contact with any bit of body he can find. On several occasions he crammed himself on my lap while I was nursing a baby. Also, he kills and eats a lot of large rabbits. Sometimes in the house on the jute door mat.
2. One thirty pound beagle/terrier mutt-mix dog I met on a Central American beach, patchy-furred and shivering with an insulting cute name that stuck (Scabby), the one I waited to hold for a year and finally collected stinking of urine, from a crate at the end of a transatlantic flight, who sat on my lap and licked me to make me think he remembered. Ours had been a brief trip to his jungle Panama island. His was the bleeding itching body we tried to resolve for years and finally did, that much later than we expected, with a simple newly developed quarterly pill for parasites. He has all his fur now, luxurious for him, and is happy. He smiles. He would be a wonderful therapy dog for kids. He likes them best.
3. My boy. He entered the world and immediately curled up like a prawn on my chest, gripping as if I were a branch from which he might fall. His features were symmetrical, his hair a swirl of dark, lips perfect; he was dewy, he was six pounds, he stayed permanently nestled there. It didn’t feel right to put him down. He cried a lot for a long time and didn't sleep for longer than an hour or two for years so I unraveled while trying to be brave. Instead I became small and sharp even though I wanted to be moon-round and gentle, I became brittle, frightened, though equally determined. I stayed alive day and night after day and night though the hardest parts. Now he is whip-smart and willful and talks in funny voices and lives at the apex of our love. His body extracts every bit from my reserves, but then we regenerate. Soon he will be four. He talks out of the side of his mouth and gesticulates theatrically and enjoys an annoying show about three child super heroes who change into to animals and fight the evils of the world. He is strong, dexterous, careful, forthright, stubborn, helpful, contrarian and possessing of flawless memory. His body came out of my body. He started as a heart in there. We were nesting dolls. His body is adorable, sometimes infuriating and always miraculous.
4. My partner’s body is both far and near. It’s different being in charge of things together. He is important, precious and taken for granted; a part of me and I of him, the center and edge of my world, natural as blinking. My heart still jumps when I see his truck and know he’s near. When he gets sick I get peculiarly angry. He's had to have his appendix out and a cancerous growth cut from his leg. His skin is very white. His tattoos are of fish, and an owl. I remember the first time I hugged him, his warm bulk. His hands are like shovels, broad capable mitts. He’s one of the smartest people I know in all the ways I’m not. His body can fix anything wrong with the house, is capable, is efficient, is solid in the way rock and dirt and stone is solid. More often than not we are ships passing in the night, bodies passing in the kitchen, bodies bumbling in the morning, bodies living in the fog inhabited by working parents. Can we still make each other laugh? Yes. He can read people, keenly. He can tell a story. Everyone should listen to him.
5. I am here too, but I might sometimes forget. Much of the time I’m trying to live beside (above? below?) a feeling of easily enveloping uneasiness. This low-level-fever-fear lives with me always, this over-awareness of groundlessness. My body flits: laundry, cleaning, cooking, picking up, never quite finishing a project. Sometimes I am lifting kettle bells at ten-thirty at night. Sometimes I am avoiding the mirror, not wanting to see myself, not wanting to spend even a second grooming. Sometimes I am jumping rope in the driveway while I wait for my kid to get into the car. Often I am lying in the dark, reading on a too-small screen. Recently I remembered this story: my one and only surgery took place when I was nine years old to correct an inguinal hernia and the doctor chided me for wanting my mother to stay overnight with me. I was making too big a deal of a little procedure, he said. When I awoke from general anesthesia vomiting and sobbing she was there with my baby brother and I remember how grateful I was. The play-lady made me a cough pillow out of folded towels wrapped with fabric tape to press to my abdomen to dull the pain. It was colorfully decorated with colored markers. When I awoke I saw my stuffed dog with floppy fabric ears had been outfitted with a matching bandage so we could recover alongside each other.
6. We are a collective body, our family. We metabolize, magnetize, patch into something close to quilt, mosaic, collage. We take part, with each passing breath, in some kind of rhythmic shifting shuffle-- back and forth between now and then and an undefinable invisible future.
7. My country’s body? Fractured. Today was a march. Gun laws that will protect our children. Somehow the most important pieces fell out the window on a fast stretch of highway where they're lying now getting rained on, whizzed past, bleached by sun. Turned into litter? Affordable education and healthcare and childcare and housing and parental leave and sane gun laws that protect our most vulnerable. Care of climate, kids and elders. Just the right things. Why can we not? My country is a corporation. It’s body? Sold. To the highest bidder. My country wears track marks and wraps itself in hun-G notes. My country quakes and shudders like windows in a storm. Fearing fear itself. I too, shake. I want to grab it’s shoulders and yell, wake up, please! Wake up!