restricted access Star-dogged Moon
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Star-dogged Moon ing in a disordered aspect. Wasn't always deservingof the averted gazes that carom off my own straight-ahead stare. Sometimes I catch only the end of the movement, the head arcing away, but it is as familiar to me as my hands—the part of the body a person sees most, clasped or dangling so often in the vicinity of one's distracted stare, a strikingly fine feature amid the mess of me— and I am past trying to see the repulsion as a random gesture ungrounded in me, my twisted asymmetry. Discerning eyes prefer to crawl along swollen gutters, settle on the fur-tufted asses 74 This is form gulping after formlessness, Skin flashing to wished-fordisappearances And the serpent body flashing without skin. WALLACE STEVENS wasn't always as I am now, ugly, distorted, features culminatI of dogs waddling in front of them, study the dying ivy on buildings . There was a period of several months when I was three years old in which I possessed an openhanded, searching charm that drew people to me. My mother says I had the airy beauty of something fleeting, features smeared hastily across a face soon to expire, and I waved my arms about in what seemed to her the hurried delight of a short lifespan. I still seem to her like someone who won't be staying, though I persist, impudently, against her most studied calculations. It is my father who escaped prematurely,as I always knew that he would. He'd been walking the knife blade between living and dying most of his life and was always tilted slightly toward extinction . The temptation not to exist was strong in my father, and I knew his body would use any excuse to take him from me, render him a grainy Polaroid in a photo album—a man walking away, waving goodbye, face blurred in turning, hand on his fedora—reduce him to a commemorative mum pressed between the leaves of a dictionary, scenting the words between Easteregg and ecce homo with that funereal perfume. He often told me I was a splendid child, and I knew he meant to reassure me about the effects of his impending absence. I knew I was meant to continue to see myself through his snuffed-out eyes, see the dazzling Astrum he insisted I was,my soubriquet. This wasbefore my own body gave protest. As a small child, I would often wake in the night in winter and steal into my parents' bedroom, quietly lay my head on my father's flanneled chest, feel the swelland breath that would reassure me of another day's stay against the extinction of my father. I carried the breeze of his sleeping breaths against my forehead with me back to bed. Sometimes I'd hear my mother rouse, and I imagined her sitting up briskly and fixing me with an accusing stare, catching the flounce of my exiting nightgown, halting me, the hot coals of her eyes glowing gold in the dark and boring 75 from behind into the feckless heart of her monster daughter, impatient with my continuing shape. Sometimes I would stay, breathe stealthy half-breaths, lie beside my father on the floor and listen for fatal shifts. My mother was young when I unexpectedly appeared in her womb, an irritating kernel of sand, one no amount of pearly cocooning could rescue, make soothing, one whose subtle chafe she continues to try to expel, so young, my mother, that she could never fully persuade herself of the idea of me, having onlyrecently come to hard terms with the theory of herself. I am now the fullgrown phantom reminder of the discomfort of those months, and she occasionally groans or pants when I am near, holds a hand to her abdomen. My mother is like those resurrectionistsof the nineteenth century,perfunctorily grisly anatomists exhuming fresh bodies in pursuit of knowledge, understanding, a ravenous reckoning of flesh and science. My mother digs me up and digs me up, turns me over in her hands, brushes the soil from my withered face, and tries to grasp the consequences of feelings that well up more quickly than reason. Don't misunderstand. My mother is a remarkable woman with a remarkable heart that beats so loudly and steadily it is difficult to think in her presence. She campaigns for the freedom of oppressed peoples; she dresses wounds on fields of battle; she dispenses the alms of...