Map

I try to memorize the details of your body.
I want to make a map of your skin
so I know where to get back to.
But I never have a pen when I need one.
My purse houses
a dry erase marker
and a stencil of black eyeliner.
Both are good for disguising the world,
but they don’t etch into it
the way I want.
They add layers.
The ones I want stripped away.

I am still in awe of the body’s ability to withstand what we put it through.
We ask and demand it to stretch
and stand in the way of danger and destruction
and expect that the beauty we summon will somehow be enough.

I think of the contortionist we watched at the fair,
October wind blowing her round as she twisted her legs up
over her head,
bent her torso in half
and flung though the air
on a white satin sheet.
Her sequined leotard sparkled
against the black starless night.
I supposed her body hurt less because of how well
she could wind it.

I thought if I could use my body this way
it would stop hurting
so much.
But that’s my body
not yours.
I trace your clavicle to your breastbone
and wonder what is underneath.

First year of college
I memorized our bones and muscles
in an anatomy lab in the basement.
I liked the serpentine names that wound
round my tongue:
            trapezius,
latissimus,
            gastrocnemius.

Then
I think about the tongue of my ex.
I remember its smoothness.
I have a nightmare where he
kisses me
and I don’t stop him.
In this dream, I feel
his weight pressing into me.

I wake up
sure he is next to me.
Not sure
if I miss him
or
the way the mole on his neck
tickled when I grazed it with
my fingernails.

And that’s the question:
how long does someone linger?
He lives in a part of my brain
I can’t control.

I sat on the windowsill of a hotel suite in Minneapolis.
It was April and snow fell amongst the buildings
I ate a croissant and café au lait.
He and I were in the same room
but I don’t think we saw or felt the same things.
I got high and fell asleep
while he kissed the lips of someone else.

I felt it in a dream.

I can memorize every last part of the body.
I can trace them over and over,
the bones,
the muscles, but
no matter how much I know
of my body,
of your body,
of the places our memories collide,
I can never really know
the insides—
the twists and turns—
of anyone else.

Rori Meyer is a writer and teacher who lives in Grand Rapids, MI. Her work has previously appeared in Superstition Review and Pine Hills Review, and is forthcoming in Jelly Bucket.

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