i like my body when it is with your
body. it is so quite a new thing.
muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smoothness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh...and eyes big love-crumbs,
and possibly i like the thrill
of under me you quite so new
-e.e. cummings, 'i like my body when it is with your'
he follows one pale, crinkled line down the length of her stomach, tracing its loop around her belly button, continuing until the stripey flesh fades to one smooth, even colour. his fingertip dances circles over her skin; the white streaks gleam against the backdrop of brown and she is coffee laced with swirling wisps of cream. he lowers his face to feel the warmth rising off of her and, as his fingers stroke the fascinating zebra skin that floats like a series of ripples around her navel, she rolls her head to the side and averts her eyes. a single bright light has plastered their shadows on the wall; a smile replaces her shame at the sight of their tangled silhouettes. with her eyes half-closed, lazily, she enjoys this: the sight of their shadow-selves joined at the hip, the gentle stroke of his fingers over her skin, the days they have spent caught up in one another, melting into a shared life of unmade beds, closed curtains, varying stages of undress, and mutant shadow puppets. this is home, as they have made it for themselves, reaching with inexperienced hands deep into hard earth, wedging themselves tightly into the cracks of the sidewalk, a space just for them. this is home, where they, jammed tightly against one another, with knees and toes and foreheads kissing, have squeezed into with a stubborn and persistent contentment.
she writes and he sketches; she reads and he listens; he paints and she watches with wide, bright eyes. they share the bed with colourful chalky pastels, books with pages barely visible under the cover of highlighter and tiny handwriting, crinkled tubes of oil paint, composition notebooks that fall apart at the seams, a rainbow array of fine-tipped sharpies, and a never-ending jar of rubber cement. in the morning, she wakes up and watches the light dance on the ceiling, reflected off of the exacto knives wedged into the bedpost above their heads.
now and then, when she is bored or he is in love, they curl up in interlocking fetal positions, tucked together in a yin and yang fashion that makes her giddy. breathing warm over each other’s skin, they plot out territory on one another and set to work with their inky markers and cool, slick paint. once, by special request, he circled her ankle with a poor replica of the skyline, scribbling messy criss-crossed stars above the skyscrapers creeping up her shins. as he touched up the melting, streaky buildings the next day, she told him how she had covered her ankle tightly in saran wrap and packing tape. she scraped away the sticky residue with a fingernail and frowned when explaining that the shower had managed to smudge it anyway. he smiled and added a river that flowed down by her heel; she grinned as he stretched a bridge along her foot, beginning at her big toe. she begged him to go over the lines every morning for a month, in hopes that her skin would remember the images forever. she went through a box of saran wrap per week.
she returns the favours in loopy, childish writing and orange marker ink, scrawling favourite passages from favourite books up and down his forearms, lining his chest with mismatched stanzas of any given poet, even printing, in large, colourful letters, lyrics from The Divinyls above the elastic border of his underwear. in careful cursive, she writes and rewrites and, by special request, rewrites a Cummings poem upside down on his abdomen, so he can look down past her head against his shoulder and read in his head ‘i like my body when it is with your body.’ if he reads it aloud, she will murmur the following line with her lips just touching his skin and they will soak up the words and each other.
she is somewhere between asleep and embarrassed when she feels the cool kiss of the paint against the warm skin of her stomach. craning her neck, twisting her shoulders, she wiggles until she can look down to where his fingers are stroking, still, her rippled skin. every touch leaves a trail of shining wet red, as if he is coaxing the blood from her veins. she watches and wonders and his fingertips snag the raised ridges of flesh as he drags a red star across her middle. he looks up and brushes the hair from his eyes, streaking his face with red. she smiles. he asks, ‘how much were you?’
she closes her eyes and bites the inside of her lip; he can tell when her bottom lip curls toward the side of her face. ‘two hundred, about.’
he runs his clean hand along her lower back, feeling the lines that lay against the grain of her soft skin bump against his open palm. the swell of her breasts, the curve of her upper arm, the skin of her narrow thighs are riddled with stripey discolourations. he marvels and she forces her gaze to the wall, where she is comforted by the sight of their two-headed, many-limbed, single-bodied silhouette.
‘left the marks all over you,’ he breathes in fascination.
she smiles with the side of her mouth. ‘battlescars.’
he rests his head against her protruding hip bone, his painting hand laid in the center of the star on her stomach. she feels his chest expanding with each breath; the movement pushes her legs wider apart from where her knees touch his ribs. with his lips against her skin, he whispers ‘i like my body when it is with your body.’
he pauses and she hesitates, feeling every scar on her body pulsate. she stares hard at their shadow, concentrating on the smooth lines of their bodies reflected on the wall. with one arm reaching, one hand groping, she burns her hand on the light bulb before closing a fist around pull string. she can feel him waiting; his breath no longer rocks her legs in peaceful waves. she puts out the light and looks down to see where her rippled, scarred stomach ends and his smooth, soft shoulders begin. the blackness presses against her eyes, covers over the line between he and she. she feels the muscles of his jaw working as he chews his tongue, feels his heart beat quicken against her thigh, feels his hand begin to tighten on her back. bright eyes wide open, comforted by the fusion of their bodies, she breathes ‘it is so quite new a thing,’ and laughs when his exhaled breath tickles her side.
yeah, i didn't do my paper yet.