- from “A Field Guide to the Body in Need”
When I say I get wet for her, I mean holistically.
The palms, the under-arms.
Of course, the mouth.
Sometimes, even, the eyes.
Salt, Albanian for “savory,” Lithuanian for “sweet.”
She used to take baths as a way of easing into sleep’s deep water, before she moved to a house with a leaking tub.
I imagine her, still, lowering herself into the bath, just the small, bright light over the sink turned on, the tub partially in shadow, partially not, cast in a half-light glow.
A small space into which she might pass & find her way, slowly, into the world of dreams she will not remember on waking.
Her breasts a pair of harmless, very beautiful jellyfish bobbing just below the water’s surface.
You know that moment, in a glass elevator, when you watch, dumbfounded—as if in slow-motion, & yet with a logic clean as math— the ceiling of one floor become the floor of the next?
That. [End Page 141]
It’s with that sense of inevitability, that topsy-turvy ease, that she came into my life.
And on a soft bed / delicate / you would let loose your longing.
Two states between us like a large body of water we can cross, but not without some planning, a little luck, & a few carefully chosen provisions.
And yet, & yet . . .
All the saltwater our bodies make.
There is still so much I do not understand. [End Page 142]
Erin M. Bertram is a PhD student and Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The author of eleven chapbooks, including The Vanishing of Camille Claudel (forthcoming), her work has appeared in Leveler, Diagram, So to Speak, and elsewhere. She lives with her partner under the Great Plains sky.
The italicized lines quote Anne Carson’s translation of Sappho’s “[I simply want to be dead.]” and Lewis Mackenzie’s translation of Kobayashi Issa’s “[This dewdrop world—].” Etymology is adapted from Wordnik and the New Oxford American Dictionary.