blackbirdonline journalSpring 2014  Vol. 13  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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A Conversation about Desire
There is no desire more natural than the desire of knowledge.
—Michel de Montaigne

What about fingernails?

What is more visceral than the sharp we leave, broken capillaries, crimson contrails across the sky of our backs, and crescents left where we dig in? What of the power contained in the extremities on the hand? “God, I can push the grass apart, / and lay my finger on Thy heart,” wrote Edna St. Vincent Millay. What if it was more than touch but rather a singular scratching finger slicing along the slick of the back? What of the full moons our mouths make?

Do not chew. Do not nibble. Do not have them become the product of a nervous habit.

1990: the first dig in a mall movie theater. What movie it was, a blur, but I remember a volcano and natives escaping the onslaught of lava and ash and unsinkable luggage. In the rush of excitement, she gripped my hand hard, nails sinking into the fleshy parts of my palm. Delicious heat shivered up my body, into my brain, which sent bubbling sweat through every pore of me.

So yes, please, fingernails.


the halves of my back;

the chords of my neck;

the sharp scrape at the crook of the elbow in the shape of desire, in
the shape of whatever we wish.


What about candle wax?

To be that boy again, on a stormy night when the power went out, playing with a yellow candle next to Buddha, who said a thousand candles can be lit by one, who said happiness cannot decrease by being shared. This boy—believing he was impervious to pain, believing he had the ability to control something like fire—believed in all sorts of things then. That the moon glowered at him. That he could decipher the language of ants. But that night, he ran his hand above the flicker and did not wince at the heat. He flipped his hand over and singed hair. Then he took his gaze onto the wax building up like crags in canyons, peaks and dips, growing and changing. And that boy, so fearless, let hot wax coat his finger. Shock made him whimper, but with a question mark at the end. Because his finger was no longer his finger but this new thing with new skin.

The boy has grown, and now the first drip sends him sighing at the sky, the next makes him suck in a sizzling breath, and the next tightens every part of him.

Drips on tips,

on nipples,

on rivering bends of the belly,

a roadmap for lips, tongue, fingertips.

Our bodies can be made of wax—all color and malleability, liquid hot then quick to cool. We could spend hours peeling one another, our hard outer shells, to find the heart of us, one heart, beating and alive, a monarch resting on milkweed.


And biting?

With the teeth I keep clean and grind in sleep and snap in the mirror.

There are too many spots to kiss and nibble. That freckled place between neck and shoulder, the wrists with their network of veins.

I'm vampiric.

Tendrils of green lace through us. We are luscious vines, our bodies a jungle, but there exists an order to this chaos. Sorted by the mouth,

the tongue,

the lips,

and oh, darling, the teeth.

Desire starts with the mouth, all the parts of it. Let me sink my teeth into a peach, juices running down the sides of my mouth. Let me bite an apple, hear the pop and crunch. What of taut skin and muscle, the delicate dangle of the lobe, the plump of lips? Let me also have that.

If biteable, I will bite. If loveable, I will love.


And talk?

No. None.

Our mouths have other business.

Do not muddle desire with words.

Leave that for foreplay.

Leave that for poetry
that moment to express what our bodies cannot.  end  

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