Seasons of the body

Art by Ina Jacobe

“Maybe the mistake
of hoping
never to make mistakes is the only
pattern we get to leave behind us: no bells—just
a calmness, after; the air so clear, we forget what
hurt so much and, in forgetting it, think it’s disappeared.”

—Carl Phillips, “The Heat of the Sun”

In our fourth year of high school, by some miracle of amateur democracy, the whole class agreed to go jogging together. How this impulse found its rational bed is anyone’s guess. It’s in the nature of teenage boys to subject themselves and each other to tests of strength, comedic and in the spirit of fraternity. I prefer the other explanation: it was something to do before the required military training, and running in the heat made more sense than just standing under the sun. S and I were running buddies for a little while. He used to joke about how I couldn’t outrun him, even though his lungs were more coated in tar.

*

The body is a medium in more ways than we are mindful of. Language dances or stumbles depending on the limberness of the tongue. The truth of your sorrow can be measured by how forcefully your chest heaves while sobbing. In situations where one is desperate for control, one may look to the following: the density of bone, the vitality of muscle, the capacity to train one’s inertia.

*

Two fun facts: Data has weight, and the internet is as heavy as a strawberry. On the other hand, I’ve tried looking for sources to confirm that light has weight. No such luck, and I’m no scientist. Though I’m read somewhere that light can gain momentum. The sun feels different now, heavier on the frame than before.

*

Shout-out to those who’ve been trying to lose their holiday weight since January. Shout-out to last minute bodily prep work and the seaside rush hour of beautiful people.

*

We went to the deep end of the pool — you glided through the water in relaxed paddles while I trod wet feet on the cement edge. I climb down the ladder still gripping the metal bars and you let yourself float, your feet at an angle presumably only angels get to experience. The best part is that they don’t touch the floor, you told me. You show me how. You take a breath and submerge. My turn. It takes two full seconds for my body to cut through all seven feet of dark blue. Again? You go down and I go down with you, your figure effervescent. “Did you watch me?” you said. How else am I going to learn?

*

The whole “detox to retox” mentality? Pedestrian.

*

What follows is a list of faraway dreams. Membership at a cycling studio. Salad everyday. Air-conditioning everywhere. Arms filling out the sleeves of old shirts. An indestructible liver. Perfect pictures. Knowing the sun on good terms.

*

Lately my memories have been finding it hard to stay on the ground, but I still remember the old path S and I would take. Straight out the high school, start from the guard post, past the pyramid church, down the slope to where either the priests or scientists make a career of stargazing. U-turn in front of the building that always reminds me of the ghost story of the Mother Mary portrait and the never-ending staircase. Then we kick up dust in the parking lot beside the soccer field, cut through the forest, sprint through the path populated by college students, hungering to be blurs to strangers. Then back. A couple of laps of this.

*

I think of the friend I’ve made a habit of greeting via embrace. His body is firm not because he works it, but because I fasten myself to him.

*

We’re at Mow’s when S tells me about how he’d calculate the total monetary cost of all the cigarette he ever smoked. So let’s say ten cigarettes per weekday plus Sunday, 15 on Friday and Saturday. 80 per week. So start at age 18. About 4,160 cigarettes a year. Five pesos per stick, for six years. You could buy a study trip overseas! He says this to me. I’m turning 24 in a couple of months.

*

What is wellness? I have no time for positive cosmic energies, or for imagining light coursing through me. I have no time calorie-counting. I have no time for sun salutations. I would rather make a sky of my body, where seasons are invisible and the only guests are night and day and whatever wishes to pass through me can do so with no traffic.

*

When we arrived at the pool, I wanted to show you how much my body had changed over the months. In a way it did that day, learning the difference between floating and controlled sinking.

*

This is the transaction. The days burn, and in return, we must ache.

Tags:
#literature

Share this:

FacebookTwitterEmailGoogle+