On yardsticks

by MB

He loves my body the way it is - its imperfections and its secrets and the pieces I work arduously to distance myself from.  

He has taught me how to be comfortable in my own skin, how to relax in my body and pay attention to what she's saying. Fingers under my ribs, palms to flesh, tracing lines and patterns.  Deliberately, as if he is an experienced cartographer exploring new terrain, searching for the intricacies that differentiate one geography from another.

We make plans to hold each other, to lose ourselves in the action of being present, the effort exerted in exchange for temporal awareness. We acknowledge the individual moments that together comprise the sum of our relationship, giving space to the memories that  possess the power to overwhelm us. 

It is the first time I am aware that my body is more than a total of individual imperfections, that it is a coordinated vessel with powers that far exceed my comprehension. I smile as I listen to him describe her flesh as though it is foreign to me. 

I am overcome by the realization that his words are palpable - the weight of his breath on my back begs to be carried.  His words linger long after he is gone, taking up more space than the body that must return home, the vestibule that houses his exoskeleton, the life he has created there.  His absence is voracious, demanding attention and tears to thrive, quickly outgrowing the confines of the space it was designed to inhabit. 

I've come to know his absence well, relying on its consistent companionship. Sometimes I wish that it alone was enough to sustain me, as if time were measured in minutes unspent.