Jan/Feb 2007 Nonfiction


by Jennifer Trudeau

Artwork by Ira Joel Haber

Through this lens, all else diminishes. Perspective warps, distorted. Details drop constantly, unbidden, into view: the slope of the throat, the bones of the shoulders, the little gap between the front teeth. You're saturated and suspended as well as invaded. You lose depth perception. You don't give a hell; you say, What a bargain!

On the phone the timbre of his voice is alive, alive with the rest of it, the secrets and guarded, parts intended for sanctity or direct contact. You stretch and roll open along its length, span outward upon it, responding to the lifts and falls like a ruffle off a wind, receiving the pressures and frictions of his sound. Only the touch of the hands could bring you closer.

If you ever want someone on first sight, your body will conspire against you afterward. Memory stores the immediate attraction whole in every cell, an unfortunate DNA of neuronal lightning. From this you cannot recover, and from that point forward, your desire is pathological.

You learn first-hand the complexity of the effects engendered by your state. You'd like to share this thrill, this rush; it cannot be shared. An extraordinary change has taken place, but only for you.

It takes a light touch to a certain site in the mind. Cellular flourish. In the moment of its blossom, a spirit of intensity is unleashed; look, standing in your small atmosphere of passion, through the rising cloud you've released—look, with your mind. There he is, the wheat and sun of his skin, the shape of his mouth, four days of new beard. Like numina, this image possesses life of its own. You don't have his permission to touch it. You have not been invited to bite its neck like that. What you may do is witness the light from its eyes, the bend of its smile, the motion of his spirit in its flesh. Fill, resound if you must, but respect the distance he has kept, and make your honor of him that inaction.

The images of his face, his form, come easily. You respond happily. His scent, though, you drive underground. When it gets out, it twists itself into your molecules. It can take weeks of aggressive forgetting to untangle the biochemical damage.

You have kissed him, so you know. The inside of his mouth is very warm; you taste the heat first, and because you could not pay attention closely after that, now you can't separate your response from the rest of the experience.

His scent, at that moment, dominated: gentled, shaded, organic. You were unbalanced by the distance between the force you felt, your instinct to seize him with all your strength, and his easy tenderness, a careful, silhouette contact. You pulled his breath into your lungs; hot heart. You wanted to crush him. You should have. You should have pounded him with the tides he raised.

You do not easily find the place where you end, and he begins. Around his center he shapes out, evidence of himself, into the world. For every move he makes, his first action happened in a deep place—the motion you see, his gestures, come late and removed, changed by their change into the body, like light finally landing, his star distant.


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