“where it lives in the body”
the first time i tasted coffee lives in the hollow beneath my right cheekbone. how it was the best thing my mouth had ever tasted, and as if by habit, as if i had already been doing it my whole life, my hand reached up and my head lilted down and to the side, and the cheekbone came to rest on the rim of the cup.
the way the el sounds, part clattering, part rushing, and the neon sparks it makes at night when grinding across tracks. this lives in my stretched open shoulder blades, some kind of space made where contentment and belonging come and settle inside.
memory of panic lives in my tongue, the taste of baking soda and metal and acid, the way the very existence of the tongue makes it feel like choking. not panic but the memory of panic. because the danger is gone, but the body memory lives on. because that’s what it is now. that is why they call it post traumatic stress.
- the night i was cleaning and found the record he left. this is found in the mark left from biting the inside of my left cheek, and how i didn't know if i was crying because i was sad or grateful or both or something else all together, only that my teeth stayed clamped around the soft skin of cheek while i cried, and kept cleaning.
- the feeling when flying lives in my serpentine spine, electric and attuned.
- the way, he still, every once in a while, reaches up when we are walking, and grabs my hands, holds it for a few minutes, as if we can maybe stop time and stay suspended, and will never forget. this lives in my lungs.
- the night everything changed lives in locked knees.
- the rows i used to count. the numbers in repetition. the lining up of things. the constant dread. the slats in the window blinds. the bricks on the side of the building. this resides in a loop of imagined wire that coils from retina to brain. and never completes but runs round and round, again and again, eyes burned opened and brain shaken with order, forever.
- the way it felt when i was sitting behind her, and my head bent down to rest on her shoulder, and my mouth pressed against her neck. this makes its home in the lower left chamber of my heart.
- the injuries on my young body live in the tendons, the connecting tissue, the way it took all the pieces and permanently altered the way i would fuse myself and meaning.
- when i sat in a crowded room, and presented my thesis, and spoke, in my own voice. this can be found in the throat opened, how i knew then that it was a muscle, and meant to be used.
- when sadness comes it lives in all of me, like vapor, invisible and everywhere.
- the memory of the morning, and the elevator door, and the sun on my skin. it is this that makes my hip bone belong to another.
- the night he had a heart attack lives in my skinned knee, the blood that made a trail down my shin, and how i did not know it was even there, my own skin broken up, until the doctor came out to the waiting room, and asked me if i was ok.
- the longing lives in the soft hollow between the clavicle bones, how sometimes, still, the missing her gets stuck there whenever i swallow.
- the sound of my father playing the harmonica around the campfire late at night, once we were in the tent pretending to sleep. the way the sound of the harmonica playing gospel music found resonance with the sound of all the summer night sounds of insects and frogs and forests alive. this lives in my fingertips.
- the memory of lost things lives in the rib cage.
- the unspoken things live in the deep crease in-between my eyebrows, a groove in skin that my own hand reaches up to and touches, (how many times a day do i do this? ten? twenty seven? a hundred?) fingers pressing it apart, as if to release sound.
- the night we kissed backstage, thick pancake make-up and crumpled costumes, and his complete surprise and my sense of wonder. this lives in the roped muscles, the strength of choosing to hold tight and to release.
- the way i used to wait for them to call and tell me that he died, that this time there was not another chance, lives in my gut.
- the dancing. the fringe dress. the knotted hair. the heavy, the light, the wet, the lost in the night and found in the diner. the sense of possibility in the first time and first kiss and first chance, when eyes lock and you know they are smiling even without glancing down at the upturned mouth. the unanswerable questions. the way sometimes things and bodies fit. the soup brought when sick. the not having to pretend and saying what is real, and letting the rest take care of itself. the trust. that is what all of this is. deep trust in myself. this lives in my large hands and inked skin, head upright, and pulse. the trust is found in my pulse.
- the feeling of freedom runs along the inside and outside, lives forever in and on through my skin, soft to the touch, vulnerable to the knife, breathing and alive and how it knows. dear god, it knows, what is real and love.
- the fear of everything gone wrong lives in my jawbone, clamped, like you might have to smash it just to get it open again.
- my hidden wholeness resides in the bottom lip, bitten.
- the things i cannot forgive live in my inner ear drum, where things are converted, where there is vibration, the between the in-between, of air and fluid.
- my love and devotion, my stories of choosing this instead of revenge or martyrdom or raged regret. choosing the open and the broken, the relentless will to be alive. this takes up permanence residence in my thick heart, and my the lines in my palms, and the arch of my back.
- my secrets live in the crook of my elbow, that soft space of skin where the needle goes in.
- the way mexico feels when waking in the morning, my mouth filled with salt and perfume, and my skin porous, and my limbs pliable. the sounds of her at night. this lives in my lips.
- the holding on lives in my veined wrists.
- the letting go lives in the blood.
- the taste of peaches with cream and sugar, early august, when i know again who i really am. this lives in the curve of waist and hip; occupies the pelvis, climbs the wall of my scared back and settled into the softest skin behind the ear.