Self-Machinationi & Motesii: an Essay on Attempt

Julia Cohen

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i This word was found on the web of flesh between thumb & pointer. On the day our stranger broke the kite in a park waxing with leashless dogs, strollers, bubble pipes. No words met me in the grass. Your word knelt under the bed of the left hand. Your word stood up & shook its mane like splinters from an exploding coffin.

Your word could not address the death of your father, so a snowy egg filled this space. A hospital cot for each word. Mason jars cramp with torn, public blossoms.

Your dimpled word has a group of words that loves it. A group that would buy the word a plane ticket & fly it anywhere. That would bake the word a tray of bright, cranberry corn muffins. Play cards under surveillance like falling snow belongs to a street lamp.

Your word rings masculine & fears nudity. Your word uses its hands like fig leaves to cover your word. Your phone says “Mom & Dad” when your mom calls. You don’t answer & voicemail’s full. Leave the house & I know you’ll return but part of me does not know this. In your absence I clean underneath the oven for the first time, I scrub away the sticky juice in the crisper.

In my head I see your head cracking open. How pink & wet on pavement. I see things I’ve never seen before: your funeral, like unzipping the one black dress I own. Like donating your word to a body farm, sending one of your T-shirts to every friend in your group of words. Like the fading names of our children: Wren, St. Cloud, Wolfgang, Facebook, Sebastian. Did you delete my breast from your phone so the police wouldn’t find it when they found your crushed word? In bed my fingernails scratch your back, and you say it feels good.

ii So much dust between me & the light. Light reflects off my laptop like a kiddie pool. Am I wading. I’m chlorine. Trying to fold things back into words so that I know what you mean. What’s the stuffing? History, emotions, the ego? Each voicemail you defeat opens a space.

How do you live with a word that hates itself? Receiving medication your word shifts with chemicals. Refill. Your word seeks counseling. I’m optimistic. Though I worry you’ll leave me for a word in a houseboat or when you decide you deserve a better word. But optimistic we can teach each other wordlings. Like envelop. Like meet-by-the-tree-in-our-too-green-park. Like help. Snowdrift. Hallowed egg. Like bicycles & collies. St. Cloud.

Like emotions sprouting from your word. Our phones are so slow, we have to touch.

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