KW 8: Emily
When I think of Emily
When I think of Emily
When I think of Emily…
Maybe I should back up.
Blason, the Elizabethan literary term, the cataloguing of a woman’s physical features, comparing her parts to snow and hills and suns and flowers and rubies and silk and cream, “belied with false compare,” and that sort of thing. Not a very charitable thing to do, to dissect someone and turn them into various inanimate objects. You might say it’s a great way of not dealing with a person at all.
When I think of Emily, which, admittedly, is often, I think of this horrendous poem we have Edmund Spenser not to thank for:
Her goodly eyes lyke saphyres shining bright,
Her forehead yvory white,
Her cheekes lyke apples with the sun hath rudded,
Her lips lyke cherryes charming men to byte,
Her brest like to a bowle of creame uncrudded,
Her paps lyke lyllies budded,
Her snowie necke lyke to a marble towre,
And all her body like a pallace fayre,
Ascending uppe, with many a stately stayre,
To honors seat and chastities sweet bowre.
Except for the part about chastities. I haven’t found any of that in her sweet bowre.
So, blason. Blason and Emily.
Why is it so difficult for me to think of her as a person? Why does she so often come to mind as a thing disintegrated, an exploded view drawing of a person, a cubist woman, flaunting her facets at me? And not just her body; even the qualities of her personality and mind engage me one at a time, so that the whole is unfamiliar to me, or ignored for the elements: the tenderness, the violence, the bright humor, the simmering jealousy, the sibling loyalty, the stately formality, the nightclub licentiousness, the sudden spite, the sudden forgiveness.
It’s not that I don’t like her—I do. It’s not that I don’t respect her—I do. It’s not that I think her vapid or stupid—I don’t. I don’t think this blasonic perception of her has much to do with her at all, but rather with me, with the temperaments bequeathed by my blood.
“Daeva are the cruelest clan,” Josephine said.
I’m beginning to see why. I have to really work, really concentrate, to see other people as real, as actual. This is true regardless of how close we are. Whether I’m drawn to them for comfort, for pleasure, for fun, for a sense of family, whether in some sluggish, distant way I care for them, their pieces and fragments can so easily trickle away, and their absence when they sleep or flee or die is not exactly person-shaped, and the fossilized parts of my brain wired for grieving and missing aren’t triggered to fire, and so lie inert, ossifying.
I learned that Caleb and Adrian were gone, that Josephine was torpid, and I felt nothing. Not exactly nothing, no. An abstracted disappointment that lingered a little and swells again every couple of nights and could be called longing. A sense of isolation, egocentric. Is vinculum truly the only way to feel anything among us? The only way besides links of “duty”, which is a frigid mistress. I think Josephine said that, too.
But this is about Emily.
When I think about Emily
When I think about Emily…
Why this obsession with her? And the word is obsession, not love. I knew love and this isn’t it. But this isn’t any less important or consuming. So why this obsession? How did we become so sweetly entangled?
Maybe I should back up.
I had just fed Zack. A lot. I was missing a pint or two, so empty I didn’t need a scale to know I was lighter. Felt like I was walking on the moon, liable to sail away, even the breeze outside threatened to knock me down. And I was higher than I’d been in at least a decade. Nothing in my belly but bile, nothing in my veins but THC. I was hearing the music of the spheres in traffic, I thought there was a texture to light and that creation was braided by human-like hands, I was conscious of air, and how we swim in it, and there was so much more air outside of me than blood inside.
How I managed to drive myself all the way to the boardwalk without causing a ten-car pile-up on the wrong side of the street or getting arrested is anyone’s guess. I plummeted through the city streets in my van like a luger on a track, letting gravity pull me around corners, blinking at the rice-paper traffic lights streaking orange red green and the flourishes of conch-shell car horns calling and responding as in a regal hall and how the accelerator pedal pushed back at me like the Earth pushes up when you stand.
Found myself dragging my feet through the sand. My whole body tingled. I’d left my jacket at home, and I’d left my blood in Zack, so it was bitter cold, so cold the cold itself was like a suit tight enough to cut off my circulation, so cold my shivering was like a heap of bones rattling around in a rolling barrel, and I thought about jogging to warm up, but even the thought of exertion made me trip and eat sand. I remember a wave lapping up, overtaking me so that I was calf-deep in water, and I couldn’t understand how I’d ended up walking in the ocean.
It was in this state that I met Emily.
How can I explain it? How can I get across the immensity of my relief, when I can barely remember it myself?
Without really knowing how I got there, I was on a beach blanket beside her. There was a bottle of wine. There was Hugo Tusk, and it was probably a romantic scene I’d just stumbled into, but nobody explained that to me, not even Tusk, who probably had to keep from frenzying on me for how I’d just massively cockblocked him.
Emily let me share her jacket. Such warmth! Boiling radiator body, divinely shaped, with at its perfect core an even rhythm, a tattoo drummed by her heart, which really beat, and which by its slow, steady tempo my own heart was entrained.
How can I explain what it feels like to sense someone else’s body heat seep into you like a holy ghost? Like a presence? What words can convey how beauty and comfort can be living things with a reality on par with consciousness, without borders, able to pass through air and flesh and suffering like light through glass, like light through light, like a solar wind lightly perfumed flowing around you until you’re in a warm cocoon in the blackness of space, strands of black hair tickling your face, in the presence only of yourself and the beauty and the comfort.
I loved her.
At that time I could love, and I loved her instantly, wholly, as you love a fairy god-mother, without even knowing her name.
Later, things would change.