The force of that submission

Do you remember the night I fell to pieces?

The night I tried to show you what this was doing to me? We are going to have this out! I said years too late, because I was trying to be brave, trying to make a demand, instead of always, always waiting for your sign to light up.

We stood opposite each other across a bed we had tumbled through the night before, and you told me you didn’t need to hear this, you folded your arms and spat words at me, and I could not move you. Even when I turned out my palms, even when I said I would take second best, if you would just take more care with my heart, I could not move you.

Do you remember how I disintegrated with the force of that submission, how it shook me apart to stand before you like that? And do you remember how, moments later, you pushed me from the room?

I begged – Just let me stay until I can breathe. But you had dinner plans – They’re waiting you said. (Funny just how you’d kept them waiting the night before). I sat in that hotel lobby after you left, and I sobbed for an hour. A grown woman reduced to lost and wailing child. It was a stranger who said Are you okay, lady? and put me back together. You ate three courses and said nothing at all.

Two weeks later you wanted to know how I was going.

How did I ever let you back in?

#

if memories are supposed to light the path ahead …

The way to do it

I did want to be a better person.

I did want to be brave and fierce and true. I did want to open my palms and expose the stories written deep in the grooves. I did want to make the harder choice and the wiser move, the moving left to make it right.

did want to be a better person, all along.

I suppose I thought love was the way to do it.

The person I am tonight

And how sometimes we nearly make it

Nothing has changed, Mack.

It would be the same if I walked into your hotel room tonight. I would still spend less than 30 seconds on my side of the couch. My legs would still snake over yours, and I would still play with the soft of your earlobe as if it were mine. I would still kiss your mouth hard and fast, and over and over, in the style of kiss you seemed to permit.

I would still follow you to the bathroom and sit on the edge of the tub while you showered, and I would still pretend not to care. I would still breathe deep at the sound of the water hitting your skin, and feel the familiar liquid start to flow. I would still see this in the too-lit mirror – carefully careless dress falling off my shoulder, teeth on candied lip, eyes a little glazed and blinking too fast.

I would still have needed to throw back the vodka shots when getting ready – my ritual of nerve and consequence when the sun went down. Did you ever know how my throat burned and my knees wobbled every time I knocked at your door?

So much time has passed, but you could still set me spinning. Still cause my hand to tremble when lifting my glass. Here it is now, curled around the stem – an erotic embrace you once called it, but really it was the only solid thing, and the red you poured felt like a consecration.

It would still be the same. Naked and cleansed, you would invite me in. We would still make an alter of our hotel bed. We would still make you the ready and willing sacrifice, still soak the sheets in a kind of communion. I would be so tender in your destruction, Mack. One does not need god to be devout.

And after. My faith, and your lack. It would be exactly the same. I have not wavered once in this affair.

The only truths I ever told were with my body, Mack. Every time I laid us down. The sincerity of the body has been much maligned by the idea that words are more honest than a beating heart. This is what I have learned since then, that my body knew us better. Every confession it ever made, those revelations in your arms. They were the only truths of our seven years, the history of us that deserves to be told.

Our bodies tried to tell us this truth, time and again. Honesty was traded from limb to limb, prayers were written across the skin. I have to believe this is what lasts, Mack. That truth and faith are actually one and the same. That while we are busy telling our little stories, trying to make our characters fit, our bodies remember a different truth. A leap of faith made when hands reach across the widest of chasms.

And how sometimes, Mack, we nearly make it.

Image by Joanne Piechota

Image by Joanne Piechota

Beginnings revisited

If December was her month, then January belonged to me.

She had your traditions and your conclusion, your customs and your god. But the opened gate, the clock ticking forward – every time, the hands reached out for me. I would count your absence down, should auld acquaintance be forgot I’d say before an explosion across the sky that felt something like your hand on my thigh.

And I would think this time it will be different, this year, this me, this us. A baptism of beginnings would be held under the sea, with me brand new when I emerged. Loved, secure, swinging from branches that were made for my frame. I met you and each new year with my skin candied like toffee, my cells realigned, the salt tracks on my cheeks a better kind.

This time it will be different, this year, this me, this us.

Yes, January belonged to me. My landscape lit like a setting sun, and you in the glare when we kicked off the sheets. We glowed with resurrection as the night gave way. This is what happened every time.

But it lasted only until the stars went out. In the grey of morning the year came clean; it marched toward December all over again, and I was set back down where I began. For seven years not a single thing changed – when the layers came off, it was still my skin, still my tissue exposed underneath.

And you still tore at it blindly, still balled me up with the sheets when that first night was done.

This is what happened every time.

(To think that you were the man of faith – when I am the one who kept it).

Joanne Piechota photography at body, remember

Eidyia’s note: I wrote this exactly a year ago. Time takes you further from where you were, it becomes harder to remember. But you do still remember. Quietly. On certain days. At certain times. You still remember.

The glare of your gold band

For seven years we were lovers.

For seven years you shucked me from my skin, shook me loose and left me scrambling for the pieces. Everything I had ever learned receded in the glare of your gold band. I spent years riding my freedom with the curb of this bit.

And as your sign flickered on and off I measured my days by whether your vacancy was illuminated. My greatest love was no less than my greatest folly.

What would they say if they knew just how much I gloried in the farce.

Image by Joanne Piechota

Image by Joanne Piechota

The fall comes from living

Are we each born with a moral compass? Do we all start pointing due north, and waver throughout our lives, swinging back toward the centre in our best moments, spinning furiously at our worst?

Your god tells you that we are born in sin, that we climb out of the darkness and head toward the light. I am inclined to think the opposite. That we are pristine and shiny when we meet this life – that the fall comes from living. We learn to deceive, to bend and twist the truth to get what we want. All of us. We lie to ourselves and each other in a hundred ways every day, and we get better at it the deeper we go.

We did try in our better moments to change our course, Mack. To go our separate ways. We tried to live by those commandments your god made. But the needle would not stay fixed, it would jump and start every time we were alone together, or too long apart. Tracking our bearings against each other’s cardinal points, we couldn’t help but come back. We were constantly pulled in, always finding the way back to our own due north. We so often left that compass spinning.

Sometimes no further navigation is required.

You only ever told one person about us. And you never told me who it was. You followed the fundamental rule of an illicit affair, the only one required to ensure it survives. You kept it a secret, and tightly. But I have always wanted to know just what you said in this one reveal. What pieces of our history did you entrust to this other person? I know only that you made this singular confession. I wonder, which version of our story did you decide to tell?

There is so little you would share with me. So little I know of what you loved. Just those careless, incidental pieces you collected, and returned to me as I lay across you.

You always clutch at your wine glass Maggie – you never put it down. Look at those pictures from your sister’s wedding. God, it’s like an erotic embrace. I’m jealous of that glass, how you hold it. But it’s no wonder you are always half gone, Mags. Ha! Your eyes flash when you’re angry, don’t they. There they go, now. I always know I’m in trouble when I get that look!

Laughing when I tried and failed to wound you in return, deflecting any arrows I would fire at you with a kiss to my nose.

Good lord Maggie, you’re challenging today. Exhausting even. The kiss would travel down. So exhausting. Pour yourself another glass of wine, and I’ll rest my head right here a while, okay? See if I can find a way to make you like me again.

Did you use moments like these to translate a girl you knew, a girl who could make you laugh, even as she set your moral compass spinning?

Or are these the stories you would tell? How we so often fucked in the park at night, how I loved the leaves stuck to my legs, the awkward scramble, the moving of my face to the dirt. How I could make you come in velvet bars and midnight taxis, and up against bathroom walls. Is this the version of me that you left behind? Was I the lover in your story, Mack?

Or did you say that I was merely your eager and available whore.

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Editing, editing, editing the book. And refusing to kill all of my darlings …

And yet …

It is easy to make too much of careless touch. Little world-slows and quicker breathing, the piano key fall of his hand at my back. These interludes rendered under my skin.

And yet.

He looks at me the way you used to. Even says the same things from time to time. Gold band twists and a different glow – thanks to you I know. That this is rarely – if ever – accidental.

Rock Bublitz by Joanne Piechota

(what mistakes we might make –  if our lessons were yet to be learned)