“Oh the body! The delight and am I / normal?”
—from The Lost Pages of Anne Sexton1
We who pretended to lie down at parties
with lovers on vinyl couches or wished
we didn’t but wouldn’t admit it, licking
salt from necks, bass leaping with our breath, or was it
expanding/escaping inside us, black light’s
purple stripes transforming eyes/teeth into green
glowing beings, separate, alive, our faces
into negatives, cried. If we did it (we did it)
to feel for a moment if not loved then
wanted: A boy jammed his tongue in my mouth
because the Coke bottle chose me when it spun,
which was my first kiss. I didn’t ask questions.
Or I fielded Ouija board guesses Yes/No/
………Good-bye. Or I walked into that closet,
willingly let them lock it. O, my wasted
adolescence! Assessing vertical stripes
on swimsuits as a function of decreased
belly fat, obsessed with how thighs pooled
when I sat, how absent thigh gap leads to ruin.
I dieted on Cheez Balls (one every 55
minutes, dissolved on the tongue in a pool
of melted butter). Or I teased my hair
to make my face look slimmer. Ruin, from
the Latin ruere, “to fall” as in fall
headlong or with a crash. We were always
falling laughing collapsing unable to stand
our bodies pulsing with want.
1. The book quoted is fictional, wished into existence, as is the quote.
Ellen Kombiyil is the author of Histories of the Future Perfect (2015), and a micro-chapbook Avalanche Tunnel (2016). Publications: New Ohio Review, Nimrod, North American Review, and Ploughshares. Awards: Mary M. Fay Poetry Award from Hunter College; Academy of American Poets college prize; Nancy Dean Medieval Prize.