Holding emotion in the body is a visceral thing. The center sinks, turning bowl or vortex.
I read somewhere that the fabric of the universe curves around mass. Like that. Cup your
hands, like holding a bowling ball. A round weight. Lay down. Set it onto your chest. Feel
your edges start to flatten. I want to remember what it felt like to look into a mirror for
the first time. To watch a body move as you move. See yourself depicted — perfection,
simply by existing — each hair, the twitch of a brow, curvature of your lip. To lean
forward, watch shadow fall over your face. Closer.
I have been marked by things during my days on this earth. Sometimes I used to drag
towel to grass and lie for hours. Finger on wrist. Controlling the precise inflation, release,
of my ribcage. All of this air in me — and out again. I could almost see it, as steam from
slow kettle. I have been marked many times. All of this air. I let myself obstruct
everything that happens to me. Writing them, one by one, into shadow. It is almost
empowerment. To do this to myself. Not quite.
In nature there exist groups, containing all different shapes and sizes of things. Protists
and jellyfish. We metamorphose, just like mayflies. These groups. It moves as you move.
Hold its gossamer wings like a goblet. Lift stream-water to your lips. Abstraction has
always been this for me. Comfort, gliding down my throat. I float here, between myself
and this other. Both are me, but one is a stranger. Her body suspended in liquid, jarred
and shelved. Panic stings in the nostrils.
How can I look at myself like this other person? Drag fingertip over the surface of the
mirror, and wait intently for response, for movement. The center of the bowling ball,
pulling everything deep into my sternum. Sometimes I believe the weight of this will
crush me. Scatter me as pottery into ash.
How can I look at myself?
As I lie breathing on the grass, I feel it travel into the air. This reluctant release of my
lungs, the air pulled out of me, squeezed like paint from a tube. It moves like mist,
slowly, then faster. A migration, from lips to air, fine particles sucked out and away.
And as a faint recollection, somewhere far, I hear the sound of a deep inhale.
is a student at UC Berkeley, and is currently Editor in Chief of Berkeley Poetry Review. Her writing, forthcoming in Lumiere Review, Emerge Literary Journal, and Red Alder Review, explores the ways we carry emotion, inhabit our own bodies in illness and health, and find ourselves pulled towards or away from expression. She studies environmental science, but makes room in her heart for poetry and language, always.