At last night’s Write Whole meeting, I invited the gathered writers to create two lists, one titled, “This is what my body knew,” and the other titled “This is what my body didn’t know.”
Over there to the left is what my list looked like.
And down here below is what I wrote (all the way at the bottom is what it sounded like):
You do not teach a body this thing, the ability to uncouple itself from its own awareness, the capacity to wrench apart from knowing like a rusty bolt tears away from a wall, following the pull of gravity. This ability can only be discovered. He puts her beside him on an afternoon bed and he has already insisted that she shape her teenage mouth around words that look like Yes.
This is the spoken sentence you would diagram the next day in class: Yes, we can go upstairs.
This is the underlying meaning you would tease out in your essay: Yes, you can remove my clothes and make my body respond to your actions.
This is the meaning so deeply encoded in the sentence, so clogged and clotted in the throat, so wholly without meaning, that any analysis of the spoken sentence would miss it altogether: No, don’t touch me. No, I hate you. No, please leave me alone. I let you do this yesterday why won’t you leave me alone? If I let you do it today you’ll stop bothering me. No I don’t want to No I don’t want to No I want you to die —
These words bubble in the throat and under the skin these words become the wings of small tree birds caught in a windstorm these unspoken sentences clog around the throat tear up through the brain lift off the top of the head rise up to the ceiling these words escape from their locked dungeon these words make themselves palpable they latch their claws into consciousness and pull hard as they fly they rend the singularity he expects her to pretend she is made of but as soon as he ignores her shaking her head or her tensed muscles or held-together thighs or flailing arms or whispered no or shouted no or wept no or invisible no she splinters she erupts into at least two selves the belly of her sinks deep into midbrain dives into the holy darkness goes supernova explodes she is lit with new terrain she was always more possible like this she lies fingers down beneath fragments of his body she peels him apart to discover what pieces of his strata still hold the words she was forced to say where in his nebulae does her unwilling yes still appear? where in the dust of his destruction exists the shapes of her pretense? she is not the only animal with the capacity for unsolvability when he reached into the pockets of his being and pulled out the self that was willing to bend her backward into unselfness, how could he be anything but an empty star, a dead planet, a rock floating dense and heavy at the center of her universe? What light left his eyes when he put his fingers in her mouth? What consciousness willingly takes itself apart, hangs its soul on a hook, so its catatonic body can go wilding? What warmth does his body gain my wringing no out of her tongue and painting that good muscle false yellow with yes?
She erupts nuclear beneath his malevolence she becomes the unreckonable force no and yes are forever intertwined in the explosion there is no distance her innumerable consciousness cannot contain now he will never be able to hold her again