Ratios

Perfect: I used that word once to talk about you
as if you were a doll with limbs made of plastic:
stiff and whimsical and subject to the niggardly
commands of the conscious- yet you, who thinks
as aggressively as any doll-house builder do not
construct your own set-pieces; instead you
pirouette into one carefully constructed day to the
next as you delicately
stride
from bed to shower to wardrobe to mirror to desktop to
window to mirror to mirror to
mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them
all-
and the staid look on your face when the mirror gives no
answer
because it can’t. Checkered skirt, sharp eyelashes, wary
jumper, almost heels. Perfect, you might think
for a moment before your eyes roll gently from self
to mirror
to self
to mirror
to mirror
the self. What was
it that you were looking for if all it does is lead
you back to your skin? Meanwhile, the snow
stutters softly from above as if God had dandruff-
perfect- and it all gently glazes the spongy surface of the world like
flawless coconut icing on some sorry party cake- perfect- and the morning
bell rings impossibly on time like the last
breath you thought was your last- perfect- and somewhere in
America I use words to remind you of the little
unreachables
of perfection that both start and end with your perfectly
snow-pale skin, where somewhere in
America and somewhere on
your thighs perfect ridges of red have formed themselves like
plastic scratches on a Barbie which we both think
are little but we both know
are big
because you are not plastic.

———————————————At nighttime our feet
skip on the icy brick pathways that lead from
the dorm-rooms to the library and we shiver
as the snowflakes bob in and out of our bodies
like thoughts
that seem funny but aren’t quite- they melt away
as soon as they stumble upon our skin. From our mouths
cloudy puffs of being flutter out- little butterflies affirming
out listless snowflake-filled minds, sperming out ice-clouds
from our mouths, our mouths, our mouths; birthing friendship.
Breath, visible, is laughter. I trip and swear and momentarily
skate
across a sudden ice-surface as you speak another ice-breath. We
arrive
at the library but dart towards the empty right-side, the science
classrooms. We hope
to examine the thought-skirmishes on your right thigh, to turn
and change this hopeless world-spinning into centrifuge
separation-
make apparent the light from the dark
————————the firmament from the void
————————the flesh from the plastic, the-
here we are as you talk
about your family and I
try my best to look you
in the eye so I
can become
your eyes
even when
normally
I
am
so
vehemently
against

staring

at the soul-gates of another being-
here we are as you talk;
God is still missing from the centrifuge
of the endlessly turning world- your
axis
is your skin yet
you trust it
not. The salads without dressing,
——-the weighing scales,
——-the taste of bile at the back of your
throat-
all for skin that
——-you
do
not
——-trust.
All for flesh that you think is plastic
so
—–you
—–cut.

————Enough
talk because the bell cuts through the flesh
of our conversation. Enough
talk because the world insists on
turning still
and forcing us to revolve
with it. Enough
breathing, enough
snow, enough
life. I remember you saying
that the ratios of your face are wrong;
that certain equilibriums do not exist between
your cheeks your lips your eyes your life…I remember the science
classrooms where parts of you were as mathematical as the architecture… I remember how
you keep thinking your flesh is plastic… You forget how
inglorious the nature of these words is. The problem
with human thought, with the ratios of your face, with the
geometric structures that cut across your thighs, with the
statistical neatness with which your family decomposes;
the problem with our conception of perfect is how
awkwardly it both exists and does not exist for us to
see.
The ratios of your face which you think are broken are
the same miracles I wonder about as you laugh. The incorrect distance
from your cheek to your eye which you think is wrong is the same
lightyear which separates the stars from the planets. The curvature
of your stomach is the bending of a spacetime to accommodate
the way the air must move to let your body occupy the space and time in which it
exists.
The ratios you speak of spring from your own limitlessness, your own
perfect imperfections , imperfect perfections-
strange oddities and unfathomable beauties and yes. Yes,
even the ridges across your right thigh are minute, red,
gasping
grand-canyons of
flesh,
of human, of breathing clay
flesh-
———–never
plastic;
———–always
worthy.

————-Recently the voices in my head have been getting louder,
telling me all sorts of things about how the snow ought to bury me
in its mercilessness. They mention also that my words bear no meaning,
my thoughts even less so. Assumedly, the ridges across your thigh
carry such spectres as well but, I messaged you before you went to bed
about coming out and having an adventure because tick-tock-tick-tock…tick…tock…tick-
the last bell of the day is going to ring soon and the voices and ridges
will assert themselves again with the bedtime silence, but check your Facebook
messages and come outside and let’s go skipping with your friends across
the century-old polished prep-school brick pathways that smell archaic because it’s

snowing outside and it’s lovely. 

 

Artwork by Henri Matisse, “Portrait of Yvonne Landsberg”

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