Only years later you told me. When it could change
nothing. You used the word "perfect".
It was early May several springs ago; we weren't
dating or so we told ourselves. I invited
you to the opening of my group photography
show, where my bit of wall hosted a set of selfportraits
titled "chronic fatigue girl dreams of flying".
I waited for you for hours outside the bustling gallery
filled with noise & perfume, short on oxygen
a swift flutter of hope & wonder in my
breasts, my toes shyly flirtatious in the high
sandals I wore just for you. It was only
when you arrived that I went inside, mingled
like I was supposed to, simulated enjoyment for
half an hour. Then we tiptoed away together;
I carried my happiness like a thinshelled egg
as we walked for miles talking, ending up at
a small café where we were warm and
unhurried and for a time forgot we were not two
ordinary girls pretending to not be dating. It was
the young womon mopping the floor who
reminded us. As the liquid bleach hit the floor
and a second later, the air my wide panicked
eyes met yours and, barely talking to minimize breathing,
we grabbed our bags and ran for the door. And when
the two of us stood safe & gasping in the cold
darkness outside, I discovered the twist and the wonder
of my body, our bodies, and felt a spidersilk belonging.
I saw us freakish & ill & beautiful & strong.
And in the moments before the stench of chlorine
a fire alarm gong shrilling in our brains
drove us outside where I choked through
an asthma attack and you stood with me, not frightened
or appalled but calm matteroffact comforting, even as
you too were struggling with the thick wash of
poison in your blood, and my eyes hung on your face,
drenched butterflies slowly drying their wings on
a generous leaf, and in between ragged
grasping breaths & convulsed coughing like
trying to spit my lungs out, I wanted to
kiss you so much my lips heated and
bloomed plump, my hips unspooled like honey,
my ripe body even now, especially now,
chanting its will to live before all this, before
the darkhaired young womon, likely tired and
badly paid, brought out the sloshing bucket
& a heavy mop you & I were sitting
at a tiny table for two and I was drinking
peppermint tea (the only semisafe thing
on the menu), and you reverseosmosed water,
and we were talking talking talking, our bodies
breathing secret messages in our each lipshape,
and I was soft, slow, dreameyed, warm, my shoulders
drenched in my very own sunlight,
my alveoli rounded with tenderness and the
deep certainty that you were the One
and you were, you told me years later,
thinking: This is perfect.
I was dreaming of bridging the air between us: fingers
like light filaments on your cheek, lips against
satin lips, your mink hair spilling across my hand & face,
breathing you in like trees, warm & finely veined
and you were thinking Perfect.
And it was.
Kamila Rina is a Jewish lesbian femme, a passionate ecofeminist, and a survivor of torture & the child sex trade. She believes that her disabilities which include environmental illness and a muscle/nerve condition that restricts the use of her arms result from violencerelated physical & emotional injuries and from exposures to toxins & environmental pollution.
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