|The Body at Risk
by Marie Drennan
|The body here is fat, fat from babyhood, a mouth crusading to capture and ingest not comfort now, in time and space, but its source, its ideal. The baby bottle, the blendered peas and plums, school-tray fishsticks, Safeway Delijo-jos and Ben & Jerry's Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch, the brie and wine, the mouth on this body from day one a hole, a howl at the failure and the lack.
The body here is fat, fat in infancy but not at birth. Not at birth. The body that produced it went dry too soon. Sent it squirming slimy but rough out to the world through the same hole a different body had wormed into. The hole was dry, the holding place had been dry, an awful phone call saw to that a month before the expulsion.
An awful phone call about a body found broken, toppled, dead on rocks at the bottom of a cliff by a river. A phone call about a body that had brewed in and issued from the same body as the listening body, the body screaming grief, smashing its holding water on the floor a month too soon.
And a little body, sticky, stuck. Sucking where there isn't anything; nothing was retained; the call, the bloody rocks, the silent river.
And the other bodies, propelled into action, willed and unwilled. One rocks backward in a hotel-room chair, head tugged to the wall by the bullet fired into its own mouth. One is gripped by an inexplicable thirty-hour sleep and wakes with milk-dripping breasts, boards a plane to get to the dry body and its mewling young, leaves thick yellow smears on airline pillows, magazine pages, the rental-car steering wheel. This bounty-body bursts onto the scene, and the vacated body becomes dense matter, hard as bone, all the rest of its life. Blood from a stone.
One final body, not as little as the new body, not as big as the dead ones or the drinking ones or the ones with dangerous laps, will not take it in. Will take nothing in. What it shares with the other bodies will wither, and it will watch, inviolable: springtime in reverse, dry autumn in fast-forward, speeding its escape.