After all, I am not clay, and there'll be no laying on of hands. He is over there, in his stiff chair, and I am here beside the mirror image of a girl with too many flaws to be offering up her body for the sake of art.
I don't know how to do it, but take my cue from the other thick figures in the fat stack of notebooks. Some--the notebooks and not the women--are so old they're held together with silver duct tape that, itself, is coming apart. Maybe the women, too.
Who were they? And where are they now? Where can I be? How long can I stay?
Heavy. If it weren't for these pillows, I might fall through the mattress. Vulnerable. I am thin as the skin on the inside of the wrist. You could daub perfume here, and the heat would set the scent on fire. I am a pulse with a voice who isn't using it right now. What would I say? There's discomfort in the draping over. I draw my knees up and am acutely aware that doing so will gather things I don't want gathered.
I am acutely aware.
I more than care about this man. That scary L word is a lozenge on my tongue. His black cat is settled into a sliver of light all magical-like. The windows are slightly parted, almost silent lips. The birds and lawnmowers that wake us have gone away, but there is the ganga cough of a neighbor and kids teaching themselves football while their parents play poker in kitchen chairs they've moved out on the fire escape.
The first time I took off my clothes, I tried to hide behind Bob Dylan. His grizzled mug stared up, and his nasal songs didn't sooth me. Today there will be no music, only the scratch of pencil across paper and the occasional sharpening. I think how delicate--those pencil shavings look like tiny skirts--petticoats edged in yellow. I'm trying too hard. They don't look like that at all. They are the remains. Or the beginning, depending on how you look at it.
How is he looking at me? I asked once, a stupid question, I know, and he talked about being more interested in negative space. He said he'd know just how to draw my proportions if he paid more attention to the painting behind me. It made sense.
If I had any talent at all, I'd draw him drawing me. I'd capture that question-mark eyebrow.
I'd incorporate the whole morning, with its coffee breath and hunger. Each day we spend together is a halo we wear above our heads. It's not that different from the cafe decorated with black and white portraits. We ate and looked each other in the eye and held hands across worn wood. Tab paid, we grabbed peppermints from a bowl beside the register, walked out into the noon glare with starbursts on our tongues, and that sweetness lingered, telling us all we needed to know.