the autogeography of a no/body

Dec 20

The Woman and the Obelisk

The arches of my feet ache, with cold, with having stood in the same position for so long, toes curled, desperately gripping, heels pressed into the stone. I think I should have been here before, knowing this, but when I look down and see the blue-grey haze it's like the first time, sex with the clouds, and heaven shouldn't feel like this, a balancing act.

It's granite. How can a rock stare? I expect it bored through the sculptor as he worked with his chisel and grindstone. He polished it, endlessly, a fine sandy dust rising into the air, sticking to his lips, clogging his mouth, slipping down his throat, into his lungs, his life. He breathed me in. He thought he was brining me out, releasing the pressure, giving me freedom, as if I was always there, waiting for him, waiting for him. I wasn't.

My arms hurt. I have to keep my shoulders back, elbows slack, a gentle tuck at the waist, stone, cold curves. He loved touching my belly, my buttocks, running his hands over my exterior. I was only as ever large or small as he deemed me to be. A nip here, a biting adjustment there.

And when he had finished he stood back saying “I am done”. The ripple of applause was purely intellectual, abstracted; they politely ignored his unsheathed tools. “So alive, alive,” they gasped, marvelling at the marble, its soapy quality, its pubescent arrogance, erect nipples, hard set mouth, determined aqueous acquiescence. He smiled graciously. I stared blindly.

They put me on a hill, far away from their fleshy browns, greens, screams, illnesses, sheep, cattle, markets stocked with fabrics and fishmongers' chalk boards. They set me apart from themselves on high ground so I could look down and they could look up and we would all know where we stood. And yet their feet had earth, soft and mossy, but mine had stone, hard and glossy.

Above me, blue sky, but anchored here in static posterity there is no chance for movement or flight. From time to time a bird sits on my shoulder, its talons gripping the gap. If only I could slip from my perch, slide down the granite column and land on my feet.