Cathexis Northwest Press
It's just about the sex.; The Body is a Doorless Home; This Is Not a Knife
By: Andrea Michalowsky
It's just about the sex.
It’s not the sex, it’s the feeling after, realizing a man can obliterate me. I’ve always wanted to be obliterated. I wash my cus in the shower when he’s done. Having composed myself for him, I carry my dripping body down the hallway’s tiled floor to lay what’s left on the bed beside him. Then, I can touch his skin without him seeing how much he’s taken. There are hollows in this body no man can know. In the psych ward, when I called the friend who’d failed to save me and told him I had lived, his voice scooped his lungs, where only air remained. Such hollowness hollows. I kept myself empty for him. I empty again and again.
The Body is a Doorless Home
You taught my body to become a body: liver and heart and bones and lungs, head disintegrating into torso and limbs, skin disintegrating into foreign skin. Like piazza water from its plastic jug, you poured me into the bowl of your body. I never knew I could find such softness, never knew I could find such thirst. I ached to feel like that house’s blanket doors, how they open and close with others’ hands. No longer the pigeons. No longer the gulls. No longer the planes that would later fly me home. Just sunlight awash in the stained, white duvet, blinding me through the plastic you’d hung like glass.
This Is Not a Knife
I forgot to bring you the pears which will rot on my kitchen counter. A New Year, a New Year, they tell us, as if we too will change. We lounge on the chairs, lounge on the toilet, on the fur of the sheepskin rug. The knife in the drawer is blunt in this home which is not your home. It belongs to a woman gone traveling Europe, a past lover you continue to love. Through the window we watch the freeway: miles and miles and passing cars. You let me press my finger to the blade. Even before touching, I can see it has no teeth. You fuck me beneath her denim duvet. Afterwards, we turn our backs and sleep. You hang the knife like a rifle with thumbtacks from her shelves. This woman was once my teacher. This woman once was yours. When I tell you love can flow, unbinding, you tell me I’m afraid and young. I dictate the French for you to write: ceci n’est pas un couteau. Underneath the pinned-up knife, you write it on her wall.
This is not a knife because it has no harm. You could not cut your morning grapefruit in two. It is not a knife because the edge is smooth as its backside, so I leave it hanging on the wall. Even if whetted, it would not be a knife: it holds no K, no N, no I, but is solid as the bones beneath your skin. Afternoons, I tell you to eat more. Come night, I kiss your ribs. This becomes a tool all its own: a handle refusing to draw blood. I draw you close beneath the sheets. This is how we learn not to break our skin.
Ana Michalowsky lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. She received an MFA from Pacific University, where she studied with Chris Abani and Marvin Bell, and a BA from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. Her work has received a Vaclav Havel Scholarship from the Prague Writers Program and a 2017 Publication Award in the Atlanta Review’s International Poetry Contest.