when a body loves a body

There were protesters outside the local Planned Parenthood clinic again this week. And, also again, a group of women in bright pink escort vests arrayed quietly along the front of the building, a buffer to the hate and madness.


These protests have ebbed and waned over the 15-some years I have lived in Philly, but they are clearly on the rise again. When I first moved here from Texas, I remember being shocked to see Planned Parenthood locations advertising on local TV, out in the open and unafraid. It expanded my vision of what became possible when we who believe in equal bodily rights and the full social participation of women were not forced to accept shaming and violence as “normal” responses to our stance. As mere “business as usual.”

On Wednesday​, as I do every time, I crossed the street to thank the escorts for being there. We shook hands and chatted​ for a moment, as I told them how glad I was to see them and how much their service means to us in the community. (We ignored​ the row of dusty old men standing behind me, muttering imprecations related to dead babies and our clearly-frozen souls.) Since this was a weekday morning, the women were all older—retired, or of an age to be so.

A phalanx of grandmas, holding the line.

Window across the street from the clinic.

Alice and the Wonderful, Delightful, No Bad, Very Good Day

Because sometimes you just gotta say “fcuk it” to the writing and bake a birthday cake for a horse instead.

annie cake_apr17
Why yes, since you mention it, that IS a 4-layer coffee-chocolate cake with lemon curd filling and a cardamom buttercream frosting! Good call. Your eye for detail is impressive.

And what about you? Tell me something good that’s happening in your world right now.

Or, equally delightful, tell me something absurd…


* * *

[Recipe adapted (only very slightly!) from this original.]

Love Letter, Unsent

sink-baby
Photo of the author being given a bath. Presumably by the author’s mother.

Dear Mom,

I miss you.

It has been exactly a year since we last communicated. I recognize our estrangement remains fully my choice, that I have only to pick up the phone and you or dad would without doubt answer. I think about that option every day.

I miss you—deeply—every day.

And, every day, I remember: sometimes we face decisions where all the options are bad. All that anyone can do then is choose the least shitty of the shitty outcomes.

And so I choose to orphan myself.

For me, losing you remains the least-bad option available.

* * *

I remember clearly that it was Valentine’s Day, the last day I replied to any message from you. One of the texts you sent, amid that final flurry of texts, simply said “Happy Valentine’s Day! I love you!” And I’m sure you thought that was innocuous. I’m sure you thought that, THAT, was a message I couldn’t possibly take issue with.

And so I would give you what you wanted.

But this is not how love works. This is not how anything works.

Continue reading “Love Letter, Unsent”

My Beautiful Boy

nathan_10-15-16

Nathan
Apr. 2003-Oct. 23, 2016

[Photo taken in happier times, AKA one week ago.]

His death was sudden and shocking: both very quick and—in the bleak final hours—excruciatingly slow, brutal, and painful. I went from praying that he would live long enough to make it to the euthanasia appointment the vet and I had scheduled for 10:30 this morning (in case the last-ditch home remedies didn’t work overnight) to pleading with the universe to please let just him go.

At 3:12 this morning, convulsing on the bathroom floor where he always loved to laze, his head cupped in my hands, my baby went.


Oh my dearest, darling Nath.

You stupid, dumbass, beloved little shit, who never found a bit of plastic or lint on the floor (or even random flicker of shadow either, let’s be honest!) that you didn’t feel compelled to eat: I have no idea what you found to scarf up over the last few days that turned your tummy into a graveyard, but I am truly sorry I could not save you from yourself. You got into so many mishaps over the years because you found the whole of your world too fascinating to worry over every little detail, like “is this actually edible?” or “will this set me on fire?” Continue reading “My Beautiful Boy”

Once Upon A Time

fairy-hand

SELF-PORTRAIT IN POTENTIA


After the death of memoir, I will write fairy tales.

I desire a purity of language outside the stink of events and memories. Stories I cannot be accused of having invented because of course I have invented them.

Neither full fiction, nor freighted fact.

I would show other bones behind my telling.

*

Fable gifts us fanciful creatures, fanciful bodies, fanciful selves. In the tales, I shall become winged, ogrish, bulky as a mountain, a face all crooked nose and sharpened teeth—by turns witch, killer, a dragon in shadows. I rend flesh. I eat princesses whole. I am wolf and hunter both, my head too full to contain in just one mind, in just one set of teeth.

I am Little Red Riding Hood’s lover.

I pull my feet off the ground and still know where I am standing.

*

I grew up in a gingerbread house, led by a gingerbread man, all of us happy and perfect and filled with gumdrops to our eyelids until at last we bled gumdrops out our mouths, and still we filled with them. I was a princess who gave away her voice for love, who danced in magical shoes until her feet were stumps and slept atop 85 feathered mattresses yet still could find no rest.

All the while being told (small child in a small child’s nightgown) that monsters were never real. The very monsters I could see, could smell.

Monsters whose fur caught on railings, leaving behind tufts that I collected each morning in a pillowcase.

One grows weary of not knowing when to believe the words pouring off one’s own tongue. Over time, one starts to prick one’s finger on every spinning wheel spindle out of spite and desperation.
Continue reading “Once Upon A Time”