Your Body and Mine

(part of a manuscript-in-progress)


Inspiration moves between your body and mine. We try to catch it, trace its lines on paper.

Petra Rowan Rhines brought me to Helene Cixous and one time, from an airplane, she texted me a long passage from Cixous. I imagined her, Petra, peering out of her window trying to find me below the cloud cover in a valley between two mountains. (Always in between.) She is very good at finding me there.

Cixous speaks of the three steps on the ladder of writing[i], the three bodies, and one of them is dead. We are always writing from inside a death, or before or after a death, always writing from these dead bodies she says. Something like that. Still, I go towards these bodies, the ones consumed by fire, the writer as witness to fire and also the dead body, I write from the rubble and ash.

Helene Cixous brought me to Clarice Lispector and Clarice Lispector doesn’t want to bring me anywhere except everywhere. She is man and woman writer at the same time, sometimes: (w)ho hasn’t ever wondered am I a monster or is this what it means to be a person?[ii] 

I think of monsters, of those writers who write into the terrible places, the dangerous places. Liz Latty writes towards and then into monsters: writes as a terrible girl[iii] as a failed girl as a failed body as a survivor body, like mine and also not like mine. She gives language to the embodiment of our messy masses. She and I, a different kind of similar, a kind of mirror and I’m always looking for a mirror. Holding hands with old failed bodies, trying to slip into new.

Aleksei Wagner, with their healing hands, bringing me into a new way of knowing my body, a way of knowing pleasure and pain, supporting me as I move through traumatic release. Writing me letters and notes to keep me moving along the path, reminding me that I have already fought the dragons and won. Being both muse and teacher, holder and healer. Showing me how to be both with and without them.

Lines upon lines of terrible girls holding hands. And what is a girl but a rupture. A fracture into something else and we don’t always know the shape of them but we know her when we see them.

My favorite beautiful failed burning bodies and now I’m thinking of other terrible girls who are also wildly full of light and heat. I’m thinking of Reina Gossett, how I can find her words in my mind most, if not all, days but can’t always find her in books, can’t always find her body in the current mainstream feminist conversation. How Reina strings together words in a way that doesn’t always make other people comfortable but always helps other people feel loved and seen. I feel loved and seen when I read Reina’s words or when we share a tiny backyard pool and we are just talking about our bathing suits. How our bodies are always colliding into each other and also slipping past each other. How I can’t know my body my survivorhood if I don’t also always look for Reina’s hand, if I’m not burning my body to the ground so that I can dig through the rubble to find hers.

Inspiration flows this way, in between bodies and mountains, settling into hands and valleys, starting fires and putting them out too. Ruptures and repairs.

I want to burn into a pile of words, a pile of rubble holding my terrible girls’ hands as we rise into a bigger badder new body.


[i] Helene Cixous, Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing

[ii] Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star

[iii] Liz Latty’s Goddard College MFA thesis title