Writing with the body

Try this: writing with the body means that every gesture is a word, or a phrase. The knuckles of your fingers arch sharply upwards, into claws, and you drag them across the wooden floor, backwards, inwards towards the church of flesh that cast them forward. You are a tiger. Your shoulder blades slide under your flesh the way the immense bones of the feline slip under its velvet fur; striped, shocking. That’s how it feels to have a black sweater cling to your skin on a winter night as you shift and dance across the bar, turn on one heel and look over your shoulder. 

Writing with the body is the way we come to terms with the life we are leading. The end of one love story does not exist except for as it exists inside of us. We act it out. 

Our story surged through me as I finally reached the door to my building, slid the key into the lock and pushed at the glass pane, the pain breaking on my face as I brought my forehead to the cool glass and heaved one single, wretched sob. I embody the loss of him in the depths of my stomach, my being roars for our failure like a man without a home sitting on a bench, howling into the darkness. 

Every step I take that is not a step towards him is another page, if I should choose to see it that way, in the story of our separation. Days and weeks become chapters in a life without the love we had. One evening may become a poem of desperation as I sit paralysed on my bed, fear and helplessness clutching at my flesh, filling another paragraph. 

What does it mean to chop up a supple, sweet roasted beetroot, to find your hands stained with purple and your face flecked in violet as you push a knife through the soft dome of colour, before tumbling the jewelled chunks onto a grassy mound of salad leaves? Every gesture may be an exercise in the practise of writing, if we accept that the body is our eternal pencil, gliding and scratching across the blankness of life. 

Every part of the body has infinite significance, when we consider the multiple uses of, for example, our hands. I dress my hands in rings and paint my nails and stroke the keys of my piano or the keys of my computer to write. I plunge them into the carcass of a chicken to eke out the wishbone, or strip the slimy silver skin from a monkfish tail with one, a short knife clutched in the other. I run them through the hair of those to whom I wish to show affection. 

Our mouths speak the words of our world. Language defines our reality. Words run out of us endlessly, bursting forth and designating this or that day or instance. Body that writes and body of work, they are the same thing. I am the self that does and the self that writes as, since writing is a form of doing, doing is also a form of writing. In writing with the body, there are two legacies we will leave behind us. The one that we were and the one that we wrote.

If the doing is intrinsically linked with the writing, may all of our gestures have infinite significance, may we revel in the infinite, infinitesimal variety of life.

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