Andromeda

I.

Submission is in the shape of her body’s contortions–curved to her love, she moves with his reckoning, the lower lip cherry red, eyes half mast, shoulders imp, hair parted to lay at the back, giving full view of the body to the other’s eyes.

II.

What is a lover’s body? Within the confines of the sheets that crease when she rolls onto her side, moisture from macadamia oil evaporating from the skin, faint traces of sex in the circulating with each exhale. The lover’s body is in motion, static only in her gaze. In their quarters: a bottle of grape wine, scarlet silk sheets, incense burning. He buries his head in the adipose areas of her body–breasts, buttocks, belly. The belly grows patches of baby hair.

III.

Natural selection recognizes threats to the body’s most vulnerable parts–the head, the eyes, the underarm, the sex–for that, it compensates with hair growth. Anatomical hair is virility, hence Andromeda has none. A woman cannot be both desirable and invulnerable. We weave clothes for protection, the body grows hair for the same purpose; Andromeda is stripped away of both.

IV.

The details bear no traces of the follicles, even to the precision of Rembrandt’s brushwork; light catches the curves of her body, shadows recede to where light does not hit–the artistry consummate save for when he misses anatomical aphorisms: where is her hair, and if it has been removed, where are its roots.

V.

What is a body? To be naked is to be oneself, to be nude is to be seen naked by others. A body is an object. Tintoretto paints Susanna stripped, crouching to conceal her breasts from The Elders watching her. Venus is born a ripened woman, and Botticelli created her, from her Birth, the object of male desire. A body is languid, static on when the gaze is fixed. The painter directs it to where he wishes: soften your spine and lay lifeless as you look to me; understand that you give up your flesh when you allow me to turn it into brush strokes.

Today I invoked the name of God. Today I asked about the possibility of mercy. Today I asked if celestial ears ever heard pleading. My plea, the infinitesimal rising and falling of the chest whose tempo wavers between staccato and stillness. Today I try to maintain stillness. Today I can’t maintain stillness. Today it will take all of me to steady my legs, to put one foot in front of the other, to walk in a straight line, to keep my knees from buckling, as if in a pew.

Holding hands

The lover reaches to hold the beloved’s hand. This act, rendered almost inconsequential, requires a partial disengagement from the loved figures. There are no demands of sensual presence here. I think about kissing, which requires the sensory engagement of tasting, of touching– or sex, which requires all of it. Holding hands happens as a byproduct of other activities–walking, sitting down, driving along a clear highway. It necessitates an expected form of inattention from the loved object. A knee-jerk reaction of the bored lover.

The etymology of the word hold partially comes from Old Norse—hald, and partially Old English— geheald; both of which meant “to take custody of.” Hold, not as in “to have and to hold,” but “hold in custody.” I think about my hands intertwined with another’s, the insidious implications of it. This is to say: I need you–[unfinished]