Saturday, May 28, 2005

what I need


I woke up early to walk to the post office. I am wearing my shirt from last night. I have not yet eaten. A mosquito bite stars my arm.

Last night at the party, the host kept bringing things to me: a plastic fork, a cloth napkin, meat, sausage, seared vegetables, mushrooms, thin slivers of peppers, berries, wine. Light moved to darkness. He brought out a fire pit, sticks, began to make a fire. I never left the table where I sat, at a corner of the patio, grass pushing through the bricks, the ruined garden, near to friends.

Have you ever had anyone offer you everything you need?

I remember being sixteen, dislocating my knee in ballet class. I was standing at the barre. My leg snapped in half. A beautiful girl in the company whose name I do not remember--she had eyes like blown glass, she had told me to slick the ends of my toe shoe ribbons with nail polish to keep them from fraying, I was afraid of her, she was so beautiful--she ran to be beside me, and squeezed my hand as if I was a mother, and said: Look only at me.

I remember being sick in graduate school, in a class where the professor set an egg timer and told us: Go. Talk. Ali. You are first. I ran to the hallway. I fell on the floor. A girl who is now dating a good friend of mine laid out a paper cup of water, a tiny white mint. They fight sometimes, she and my friend, but I think of the water, the mint.

How do you repay them? How do you tell them, yes, this is what I need, and this is what I will bring to you.

Give me everything I need.

This is what I will bring to you: letters, and poems, and stories of my childhood, the thing that hurt me, and suns, and stones from the river I collect in my skirt, my mouth, my hands shaped like a mouth holding water, my heart sliced open, the seeds of a pomegranate, the girl in a white dress walking through the grass back to the house.