Astroturf eats sun like a late meal. The heat greets my left cheek, right cheek rushes with soiled roadway breeze, I reconcile two or more feelings. The astroturf at the Women’s World Cup in 2015 was reportedly 120 degrees at kickoff. Hot surface for the hot bodies, hot bodies for the surface: some particulate sits darkly underneath, makes it that way.
Dome tent hosts my universe for this moment, soft backs laid in a row, legs suspended above the unbearable itchy imitation. Blurring my eyes, shaking our thighs. There is a feeling of discomfort, sprouting baby terrain exposed, also panic meets excitement. Repetition hits when laying somewhere new, ritualistic offering of this: my peculiar mound of bones. When my therapist first asks me to lie down on her couch, I dive. Find myself diving. Horizon of her 16th floor, my body. Erasing each object around me one-by-one like my stoned kid sister taught me. Gradually dismembering my associations. There goes the clock, windowsill. I know from the smell of their moist coursing bodies that lanky skaters circle below me as I float across from city hall’s steeple. For whom is the realest thing reserved? (My real thing or yours).
Next, dark cherry smear across a freshly-buzzed head, jagged rock slabs and sand claiming every wet shape. This haircut is depressing, its maintenance, my predictable and yet total upheaval. Sweet generosity of the blade and also your touch. That favorite position you bring me to, arm hooked behind my head, subtle prop, the way unfolded laundry smells, good angle when my hips are splayed over knelt legs. Team captain on a particular day told us we were women, that sort of rounding-upward, I’m on my tip-toes. 13 year old woman gazing into that big white sphere, bent in the middle, gravity behind me, drawing in breath. I can hold that, can you? I’m gonna hold that.
The first experimental synthetic turf field was installed at the Moses Brown Quaker School in Providence, Rhode Island. New investment in this capital city, surprisingly beachside. Maintained a boyish lover through seasons of summer weather on an opposite coast. Memories of these fucks and talks intermittently take the heart-shape of a ‘PVD’ permanent hip-adornment that I lingered to decipher. Other than this tattooed stretch of skin over bone, my folder on the locale is thin until I am introduced to a new version of me who visits you there. Carnal visuals emerge through geologic fog and suddenly a steady channel of my interest flows to strange, unfamiliar latitude.
Composing my pitch so carefully, receptive to lessons on caution, I’m thinking of my body too much or too little while I count the times we’ve touched and evaluate my worth, some calculus of intention and execution. Pooled remnants of all three of us on this fitted sheet leave me wanting and I am wondering if you’d like to join this family of ours, spell your name out in lowercase.
Considering the physical factors of any potentially unphotographable subject: unruly form. From inside the violence of any singular instant, I am out here trying to imagine. Forms of the blur indicate something at play outside of the mechanism. My most notable ex had a term for it: moon face. What about an identity fundamentally in motion? What if translation to still-frame is impossible? Game play requires slow-motion playback for an audience of distant millions. Multiple examinations create a fiction that truth can be located in a singular frozen instant. The emotion of any given fanatic disproves this. Narrative and desire is all it takes for a conspiratorial recap of uninterrupted runs, hat tricks, a curse; but these scoreboard reds give off a different light from my midfield vantage.
Please don’t tell me you love me, my religion is that it will ruin everything. Night sweats seep with awareness that words are brimming, becoming placeholders for other sweeter, more tangible ways of laying next to each other. I say this as a closeted believer, as someone who has said I Love You, as a three-legged dog. Blank looks most beautiful when she can’t keep the smile off her face, when she’s laughing too hard to keep up.
Met up in the desert to discuss the pleasures of autonomy and drinking water, and then to mutually prove a point: I went west as you returned east. Years later, after backing into each other somewhere in the middle, we wordlessly scavenge this container for dead space, the area of which might fit another human heart. We admit with our eyes that we’ve been praying for some resources outside of duality, and take pleasure in watching the other’s mouth go hard on new skin. Together, older brother, sex appetite, compete for tightest fade, show her the ropes, encourage baddest behavior.
And in my dream, the father lifts his robes to expose medical intervention, wounds, while singing in nursery rhyme. I wake and stumble across cavernous shadowed landscape, flipping by flickering streetlight to the dedications page again and again, taking notes on your historical devotions like a cheat. Operating from obvious deficit, feeling somehow elegant, you introduce me to new words, different meanings, I turn over and find their definitions in the mouth of my bedmate. Mom’s morning text comes up Unknown Number which turns out to be a more compelling surveillance paranoia slash technological intimacy fable than any other I’ve heard yet.
Her word consideration: I inherited specific cadence and emphasis. It leaves me drained, you overstuffed. Dissolution at the frameworks has me configured in some excruciating imagination. RSVP’d to my high school best friend’s gay wedding on a particularly low day, at the office, just before lunch. Lost the argument, won the feeling, panicked, collected rinds in the freezer. Calling the cops when what you want is help. Imagine missing the point. Feeling around in the lights-off world. Hoping prediction is possible when it comes to invisible inputs and outputs, expecting some balance, losing my balance, growing a callus that one day I’ll recognize as a tumor.
Organics craze breeds cheaper, flimsy containers for what consumers are looking for: natural, local. The words on the packaging stiffen into pull-quote categories and enact a series of environmental fabrications. Rather than foster the space and conditions that would allow real grass to grow and thrive, the united states military funded research for ChemGrass, the original imitation field, specifically for over-developed, urban environments. Navigate behind a guzzling semi-truck that purports fresh. I have kneeled in muddy garden beds in late November, been hand fed post-frost tatsoi leaves from dirty lesbian hands, I refuse to also call this fresh. I find the words prostrate in their graves, unmoved by their traditional conjurings, and yet am still deploying daily. Desaturation of she happened years ago, each day’s familiar: it is the devil on either shoulder. Any firm alliance with pronoun would indicate association can be solid, that the sound could contain any one body in particular and so I testify from this dilapidated raft. Your faith in these language tools leaves me jealous and untouched, swept into your string of deserted single-frames, I am thirsty for some movement.
Blue tint, a sliding reflection across moist facial. Smallest finger, hand, muscle adjustments refract different light patterns across her nose, chin, broad daylight. Text me the track. The sun faded notably — was verbalized — during a recent tangle. Three tongues get to work in mediums other than sentence.
I learn and, most importantly, unlearn. This bed is an overgrown meadow, an obscured rolling object creates pattern through tall blades, illusion of moving earth, or is that the wind? Sweat mixture creates a layer, a bubble, more than one universe, chain mail, bought my first chain, grabbed her chain, broke her chain, slipping into my own private highlight reel. Made you squirt all over her back and then bowed to the stain and asked for it. This fugly whole of Bushwick hosts my desire and I wait for you, glancing out my open changing window. Falling backwards with no desire to catch myself, only a distinct intention to fall faster and wider, hitting some baseline, fundamental solitude wakes me back into my skin. Slick terrain, drastic bounce. These opening eyes feel no different than heartbreak, and in the fight between tree limb and plastic bag, I am undecided.
I receive a photo of the poem you just internalized: paper subtly too blue or too orange depending on the light of your read. In wanting to understand you, deep inner drive toward successful transmission, I devour the poem three times, am hit deep. Then realize this is the book I just lent to you, just read this poem myself a few days ago, in my own too blue or too orange light. Meaning transformed, leapt out into the freeway of my chest, I am left wondering if the poem on the page and the poem on my screen are the same poem, despite inarguable fact that they are constructed from the same ink shapes.
So I bought black sheets for my dyke household announcing come to any temporary visitors of this shared one-bedroom. Still feeling unseen by my mother, misunderstood by my associates. On my knees to the gods of my own impossible, invisible history. Any new growth carries earth message even when roots are metaphor, but rubber develops no story under threads of green plastic. And yet, memories shoot up from the inherited turf, that narrow brick passageway between our summer refuge and neighboring hair salon, where we hosed our messy bodies down, the first step to the de-sanding process. Her genes inhabit mine with compulsive drive toward cleanliness, that comfort itch I like to gnaw when I’d rather be getting something expressive done: busy myself with the order of things, stain removal, fridge deep-clean, toothbrush to the grout. Uncovering each dirt message of this fluid anatomy is thus my uphill battle.
Women and girls in real life become ladies on the court. When she screams LADIES, she is speaking of the team, conjuring the collective, summoning quorum. And so, the word sister has never vibrated through my ears as singular. One floor above her head, in my genetic hall of mirrors, we hit the showers. In another situation, I would find you in this pool. Pressed against the fogged glass, drenched scent, chlorine, dripping eye contact, this post-work YMCA fantasy, I would find you. Collect the sweat from each individual body, combine it, call it sisterhood, and then spend the rest of your days in the lab trying to parse each discrete source. My coach, frothing at the mouth, fresh sneakers edging into the white painted perimeter, pops her gum and tells us we’re all one thing. Spitting onto the field, eager to join us out there in this designation. This coach was a tight-ponytail closet case, I imagine her fake husband standing on a harbored motor boat, completely still. I too resorted to the pain and restriction of a tight ponytail for some years. And of course it was helpful to hold singular, for all of us, for a while, but our field flooded during thunderstorms, had permanent dusty divots in front of either goal, smelled like ripe grass, made white socks stain green. When the bodies joined together in common goal, I eventually found the points of comparison to cause notions of ultimate, insoluble plural.
I finally text back: me, being your healthy baby with no gender, gave you an unrealistic expectation for our life together, this most complicated forever knowing
Family meal ruiner: this designation. Ruiner of other dinners too. Ruined a dinner for three once with my insecurity. Fourth side of the table all tongue spice and empty water glasses, ate heat, served slippery intimacy and took turns getting looks in the ladies room. Hovered over dietary restrictions and completely lost my own gut. Claimed responsibility months too late. Untangled the brunch-time divorce disclosure through years spent with an insatiable taster who was raised macrobiotic by three mothers. Some dinners of my life have been beautiful, even best. Digested over smoke and laughter. After one best dinner in particular, sheltered from the winter road in a romantic barn for the night, I walked downhill to an unlit stadium, wide open to better observe the encroachment of eclipse. Soon kissing three ways, hot mouths slide over chattering faces, warm desire on cold chins and noses. Below the moon’s bleachers, moisture and Bermuda Grass model ‘Tifton 419’: unseen, delicate and multiple, very real.
Failed the dinner gathering again last night though, sucked the vibe into myself, held breath, avoided eyes, experienced pain at my own read. Learned acutely how to sense the language of the body I emerged from and this skill does not translate into an ability to read my own body language. In fact, obscures it. Prepared for a life decidedly-separatist in our cluttered and bloody cohabitation, earliest memories of wanting to please our matriarch. I am across the table from her and my physical shape begins to shrink, I sub out. Watch the flood lights of my arena turn off one-by-one. Exhaled only once alone underground in dense publics.
Language chasm meets family on the freeway, the mother has locked the doors, she’s looking for something that cannot be found, the father is not in the car.
Left my hood up for the remainder, flowed superfluously to the track, authentically bopped to Drake, felt sorry for myself, looked forward to masturbating, considered my own reflection in laminated glass, held the dirty pole, felt regretful, understood, loved myself, felt myself, got lonely, skipped every other step into moist warm air. Propensity for the realest conversations is unpleasant. If A = B and B = C, I too am unpleasant. Even for myself sometimes: hard to be around. Also hard to be inside of, something I will get over in this new digestion phase, through much private diligence and also taking your hand in mine and showing you how I want it. The term switch literally means change. Excuse myself from the table of this bored hierarchy of unidirectional giving and taking, naming our activities would enact a pause. I ask not for both but all, the collection of frames. Sometimes in public I am not sure if I am witness or being witnessed. The first time I saw Sharon Hayes on the C train with her camera bag she looked like she was having a bad day. I felt her, loved her. Her feet looked small.
And two weeks ago my life mirrored Sharon Hayes’ letterpress prints entitled ‘May 01, 2012’ to the point of my own inconsolable tears. Caught myself red-handed using a faulty messaging system to reach the desired party. Created an uncomfortable scenario to work myself out from the inside of. Pooled my resources. Pronounced feel like fill. Chased a filling. I desired something and then wrung my hands at oncoming questions of classification. Sent in as goalie but craved displacement amidst the other team’s configuration. Using my thumb to smudge the coarse edges between each adjoining point of view has been the labor of this landscape portraiture.
Finally alone, fucked myself next to a hot window. Cracked my eyes open, let the light in.
A waxed pussy is a promise. Reach into jeans knowing her texture and finding instead bare form, you’ll never again expect to know the same thing twice, claim to know anything at all. A waxed pussy is like a nipple piercing, changing gradient made physical, the reveal inserts wildly unknown potential into every past and future touch, a mirage of harder and softer moments, an opportunity to introduce hands to time itself.
Back from the meditation retreat, her nipples are soft from contemplation like mini marshmallows, I am waiting eager. Three beverages and my amateur onigiri game in the parked car. I long for traffic alongside you. Something to kill time inside of, resourceless. I find you, again and again, splayed in my same dysmorphias, calling out my name in reverse. You wanna know what rages me? What rages you?
Emerald green of the never-dying surface articulates a profound stillness of earth, posture of every false idol. Plotted squares pixelate green to brown to beige. The first step is to turn the calcified sillcock and run for the snake that springs alive at the other end of the driveway: point gurgling water, temperature squeal. Watch the jiggling body, arched back, hot driveway, cackling purely with the moment, absent mind to your own soon turn at subjecthood. Watch sand turn dark and cluster, slide down legs known for growing pains, pool at bare feet. Upstairs, a warm bucket waits. Listening from the balcony, she’s queued: fill beige bucket, carry vessel to porch, begin to cut green away from fleshy pink strawberries, pile powdered sugar into glass bowl. We buzz buzzer, mystery of this private PA system that carries most ancient soothing mother voice. Plop body into bucket, just wide enough for baby hips, limbs tentacle four ways and again I’m waiting my turn. Teleport from sun-bleached bathing suit into crowded bathtub. Deflated and crumpled, sandy polyester garment somehow turns into fresh-rinsed and hung-to-dry beach invitation by morning.
The carpeted fact of this second-story home is what led to strict sand regiment, and also smell that lingers in some crevice of deep comfort. Cheeky magnets, heavy Vitamin D eyes, sugary cereal, and the sweet smell of Carlton 100s wafting in from the back porch. Attended and co-hosted my first seance within the sounds of her snoring one night, when access to flame was a secret and calculated pursuit. Cross-legged over a dark driveway, I am suddenly mid-air again. We chose elements for each one of us, took the assignments personally and played our positions from then on. Living room scenes feature my sisters with missing front teeth, aloe treatments on switched-coast skin, and notable first discovery via fleeting Shotime subscription late one summer night. Each of these details presided over by a large painting of some burning barn – or maybe just a gorgeous sunset.
Alone with my sisters and our mom and grandma, I am not exaggerating when I say that we emerged exalted with sandy scalps. My gratitude at every his-absence, possibility of answers leaves me realizing the initially unformed questions. The drama of my own secrecy, its compelling format, and the nascent-held knowledge that figures of fatherhood always find some mode of leaving, want more for themselves than this, end up with less, then want anything. The Women’s National Soccer team filed a series of lawsuits against the US Soccer Federation from 2014 – 2019 over gendered discrepancy in player salary, referee standards, pervasive use of fake grass. Certain bodies host elevated danger, endure hostile working conditions, and are asked to accommodate an artificial field of play.
Fixated on the motion of this story, I take issue with a snapshot of any given moment, its inability to hold a collection of complicated things. What does the attempted representation portray? Flimsy residue, a partial truth, the illusion of singular authorship. A stadium featuring professional women’s soccer can host nearly 60,000 spectators, and each seat provides a uniquely distinctive view of action. How much can you ask one mantel to hold? I distrust the simplicity of the lone frame – I contain in me a desire to understand a series of reality, although I have yet to successfully inhabit this would-be-feat. People enter your home and comment on the stillness and health of potted plants, only you hold the momentum of their constant death. You say thank you and continue as sole witness. I have ruined myself on any given day with the torment of a secret, with the knowledge of my own asymmetrical face, archivist of each least flattering portrait. Learned every facet of survival from the bodies who developed techniques on unforgiving terrain and continue to embody.
The spring of 2019 finds girlfriend on the gendered lips of this nation. Sudden mass media celebration of purple-haired female athletics propels forward the human rights optics of this years-old lobby for women upon natural grass fields. My grandma and I conjure different bodies and relationship dynamics when we each deploy the word girlfriend. Recently while visiting two girlfriends, I learned the term prayer window. As in, “I want to rearrange the bedroom, but I don’t want our bed to lose the light from the prayer window.” I know the feeling. Laid out after something has gone down with a girlfriend or a girlfriend, and it’s just me and a hole in the roof, singular beam of warm light, my prayers.
You might be fucking in the backseat of a car driving through west Texas. Driver, she might have designed the experience and told you to do it and once you’re back there it is just body, next move of the mouth. The rain falls harder as things get wetter and its all red lights, white lights, moaning. Driver cruises through rearview and she’s the type of eye-witness who can’t help but start to touch, herself, touch herself throughout. Acceleration, deeper and more, is the escape route from barely offered plot, injurious land. The buzz cuts in the back seat roll and thrash, come stain smear across blue will remain for days, almost a full week, before those dirty pants finally wash the scent memory: three bodies moist in their distinct and sweetest ways. I’m on my knees and one arm, erasing the night scenery, busy highway from El Paso littered in TX plates, its unfamiliarities and dangers become consumed by the sex of my life.
The foundation of experience is built on false grounds: the myth of the mother plus the father creates subtle deformations through generations until you’re left with a lesbian clusterfuck and no discernable or articulate future. Our lineup acknowledges the weight of this classification, our bursting at the seams, fundamental discomfort. I am asked to situate myself inside my body and find a dark pit that weighs tons. Is this drama inaccessible? I was literally expanding like a balloon made of dense clay, I was a shape, a vessel full of warm water with a layer of accumulated sand swaying across the bottom.