Tomorrow I launch my very first chapbook Conversation with the Stone Wife, a sampling of a book I’ve worked very hard on for years and years to make pristine and strong. It’s cooked. So much of this and Swan Feast is about fostering identities with voluptuous stone in lieu of people for comfort. I had problems for a long time with my body. I have problems with my body. Each book I write I want to feel like an excavation of body. I don’t know how helpful any of it is. They’ve announced a 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza, probably to clean away all the dead children so they can start all over again.
I wrote a long, 4,000+ word essay about exercise and body dysmorphia, and I sent it somewhere. I’ve never sent a personal essay anywhere. This has nothing to do with the personal so much as the interpretation of the personal. I’m not sure what a personal narrative is supposed to do, beyond merge pathos with pathos. People want to make sure they contain Ebola to Africa, where disease doesn’t matter, where people and their deaths don’t matter.
Conversation with the Stone Wife is in no way a personal account of my dysmorphia. It’s too caked in artifice. It is in no way creating an intersection between the Venus of Willendorf and timelessness, and in fact, refutes the claim that art is timeless. Art is fleshy and will die. There is no reason to believe anything humans create will last. There is no reason to hope this to be true. Conversation with the Stone Wife is more about the failure of eras and the failure of bodies to pronounce these eras. Our bodies are a liquid promise and we fuck them and fuck them and smear our shit and piss and die with our jaws open to bready nothing. I am so fucking sick of the news inuring me to the images of so many brown bodies splayed out with hanging jaws.
People roll their eyes when they hear me say my body is disgusting and I am disgusting for having a body. I fawn over bodies that are waifish and tiny because they are almost gone, and my curiosity to be in that state of disappearance becomes entirely religious. My relationship with the Venus figurines is quite simple: We are each locked into the torture that bodily size is bodily purpose. She just happens to be lucky enough to be stone. O gargoyle, why wasn’t I too made of stone? sighs Quasimodo. The NYTimes, in writing of the cease-fire, shows two images of mourning Israelis and then, as almost a factual afterthought, offers these numbers which show that 1,410 Palestinians have been killed—to Israel’s 64.
It did occur to me today that if I didn’t write poetry I would have killed myself a long time ago. I’m not sure it’s helpful to anyone, including myself, that I didn’t. But I need poems. I need them like I need the world to disappear for a long time. My chapbook launch is tomorrow and while I will never be happy nor ever choose to be happy because ugh god, I feel okay. I feel loved. It’s a bad feeling to have when focused on war and ethnic cleansing. I’m sorry the world is the world. I can only think of what these elements mean together, and it’s an offensive, helpless kind of math.
Being alive feels like subscribing to all of the atrocities and I don’t want to have to subscribe to all of the atrocities and I guess that is why happiness is a completely false construction for our quotidian safety but there is no safety and certainly no happiness. I never want to forget how horribly locked in we are to this big atrocious everything. I never want to even consider how horrible it must be like to be happy about living.
My 10-year high school reunion is in November and a class photo was posted on the FB page. I was the Goth Girl in the class. To my right is Gaelen, my unsmiling BFF. Boys threw rocks and bottles at my face from their cars while belching FREEEAK from the windows. Now I write poems about killing men. I made a goth bridal headdress last night for my chapbook performance tomorrow. I am probably not going to my HS reunion. You should come to my chapbook launch for CONVERSATION WITH THE STONE WIFE at MellowPages.
I’ve heard many poets share the sentiment that, due to all the recent sexual violence toward women at poetry readings, they will take a 6-month sobriety stand against such crimes. This was a hard sentence to write and then reconcile, because it is certainly noble to do this, and it comes from a place of safety and absolute support. That being said, I take issue with how the choice to drink or not drink conflates sexual violence to facile terms of sobriety vs non-sobriety. And I know that that is not the intention of those participating in this, and in fact, is also a caveat they’ve voiced. I know we’re all helpless to the atrocities others do in secret, and this stance feels good for that. In the wake of the horrendous rape and subsequent public raping of Jada, I have pause with what this message comes down to. I want to join in in support of this movement, but I worry about the implications. I worry that this is just one more instance of suggesting it is women who need to change their lifestyles to defend against potential trauma, and it is difficult to disentangle this feeling from the cause of political sobriety.