Boston Marriage

By Shelley Ettinger

She is in my skin. She is the rough rubbery elbow, the buttery putty underneath my knee. When my shin constricts, when I lift my arms lean forward and every cell tenses heart pumps with the instinct to flee, when something someone threatens me, she is in my throat she thrums through my trachea she is survival instinct she is lodged precortically. She is adrenalin and I am young again, slim, I run, I am fuel-injected energy. She is plasma she swims my arteries. She is oxygen she bonds chemical compounds. She is elemental. Because of her I breathe I bend I shimmy I trill I am lumbering bear slithering boa skylark in glide. She: my nakedness. Spit swallow sweat snooze wake. Me naked in the rain she my slicker me wet me dry she my wetness my slick wet skin cool dry warm safe. She my slippery.

A friend who's never managed a lasting relationship says she doesn't care she enjoys singledom she says, but it grates her that the state should grant benefits on the basis of coupledom, and I agree. How dare they decree your worth based on who you're with and then, once we win, once we're all wedded, she she he she he he, the rest will be left adrift. This is what I say except I'm a hypocrite, for I have what I want I want the world to see what I love I love the world I want the world to love what I have I want the world to want what I love.

Her ears ankles breasts. The little twitchings as she slips into dreams. Her hand when it's manicured and she's happy with the crimson and offers me a grip. This morning when she tore through the house searching for the perfect bag, gave up, swore. Last fall new tires for the car. The quarrels, messes, meals. Plump tushy, tiny lines by the eyes whorls wrinkles fifteen gray hairs as aging finally proceeds. Iced tea fresh muffins rice and beans. Grumpy Friday morning stress fatigue Sunday sleep in stretch hug grin. Begin again she is my skin again begin.