Everything physical, everything specific: the sharp scent of the woods that night in the Adirondacks when the rain drummed down on the canvas tent. The cold clear water that dazzled your body when you plummeted from the rope swing. The softness of the loam under your boots that cold dawn hike in Vermont.
How free it feels to dance alone late at night in your dark living room. How his hand over yours felt that day on the train when you were too full of feelings to talk. How rough and full of sun the cotton sheets dried outside feel when you slide between them.
Sometimes you imagine the moment you’ll leave this physical world, and in those moments it’s these sensations that wash over you. You think, this is what I’ll miss most. Being alive in a wild animal body in a wild animal world.
Bird, by Danusha Lameris
We were sitting on the couch in the dark
talking about first pets, when I told him how,
as a girl, I kept a blue and white parakeet I let
fly around the house and, sometimes, outside,
where he’d land on the branches of pine
and eucalyptus, balancing between seedpods
and spines. Only, while I was telling it,
my companion began to stroke, very lightly,
the indent of my palm, the way you do when you’re
sitting in the dark with someone you’ve never kissed
but have thought about kissing. And I told him
how my bird would sit on a high branch and sing,
loudly, at the wonder of it—the whole, green world—
while he traced the inside of my arm with his fingers,
opening another world of greenery and vines,
twisting toward the sun. I loved that bird for his singing,
and also for the way his small body, lifted skyward,
made my life larger. And then it was lip-to-lip,
a bramble, and it was hard to say who was who—
thumb to cheek to chest. The whole ravening.
When I told him I did not clip my bird’s wings,
I was talking about hunger. When he pressed me
hard against the back of the couch, named a litany
of things he’d do to me, I wanted them all.
I, too, have loved to live in a body. To feel the way
it lifts up the octaves of sky, cells spiraling
through smoke and mist, cumulus and stratus,
into that wild blue. And though I knew
there was always a hawk somewhere in the shadows
ready to snatch his heart in its claws, still,
I couldn’t help letting that parakeet free.
For more information on Danusha Lameris, please check out her website.
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