Third Place

(part of a manuscript-in-progress)


The body of a queer survivor of sexual and physical violence as a failed body, as a body that experienced a rupture, often multiple ones, the explosion of trauma, the fissures of that split settling into skin. What’s required of a body to continue to connect after such losses? What gets set aside?

Like the climate created between the shared borders of ecotones[i] with ecotone as the transition zone between two different plant communities, as that between forest and prairie[ii]—where two lands touch, a third land is birthed; where hot and cold, dry and wet, water and land, mountains and valleys are both themselves, alone, and also something else (entirely new) upon contact.

I am forever in the third place, third land. The ecotone between all the binaries, the befores and afters, the then and nows, the women and men, the child and adult, the body and the soul, the space I can’t quite put my finger on or always put language to but I always know I am inside of it. I can’t not be because there is no before without an after and I am sitting on the edge, right in between at the moment of the first touching.

Bhanu Kapil says that she’s writing from that third place and third land too and so I follow her in.


Places between that I imagine as ecotones:


When our bodies are lying next to each other, the space between skin touching skin

Everything Helene Cixous has written but most especially The Third Body

The goddess Hecate: between her two dogs, her two torches, she, always the third in between

The point at which a blade has just split skin but hasn’t yet drawn blood, that flash

That point in between before and after


Can this third place, the point between before and after, between one and the other, between the binaries of identities that can never be fully expressed, unachievable in their extremities, can this be the place from which new gets birthed? Forever pushing the edges of before and after, pushing out of my body, always further and further.


[i] Thanks to Karen Campbell who, after seeing some of what I was working with in G2, suggested I look into “ecotone” as a concept to frame the spaces in between other spaces I was trying to highlight.

[ii] Definition of ecotone: