LORETTE C. LUZAJIC
★ ★ ★ ★
You Took Me into the Woods
to see how autumn had just
that day spun down to gold.
It grew dark and your tongue
felt like the same soft rain that
fell before we got there. I left
the ravine with bruised lips
and straps to adjust, and
somehow more innocent
than I had ever been.
“Bodies have their own light which they consume to live: they burn, they are not lit from the outside.” What did Egon Schiele mean by that? The young Austrian painted people naked for a living, often underaged boys and girls. You could buy his smut at flea markets for decades after his death, careless strays from private collections. In art history, the nude was traditionally exalted, idealized by the paintbrush, but Egon’s were sketched with disgust, thinly veiling repulsion and revulsion as ribaldry. Every body was ruddy and varicose, skinny, spread, stumped, stubbly. Women languidly prying open a swollen slit with skeletal fingers. Men cocky, with gangrene and anguish near the surface. Beautiful and ugly, as if their compulsion, their immortal desire, was a distortion of death instead of life itself. Every nude was a wound, especially his own.
1. Barcelona. Another century. Another world.
2. Guns and horses. Another wild west.
3. I wanted Barcelona, with my lover. To be kissed with the salt and marrow of clams and mussel shells. I wanted to take in the passion and splendour I imagined, in his company. I could see him stretched out in a rustic and colourful hotel, one nipple escaping the linen coverlet, waiting for my mouth.
4. For a long time, a long time ago, I was in love with a Spanish man. His roots were in Madrid. When we were kids we drank cheap shiraz in phone booths, almost kissing. When we were forty, we drank mid-range Rioja in travel mugs, walking the dark surf of Lake Ontario. It had been years since I’d seen him. It would be even longer, maybe never, until I saw him again.
5. Love comes rusty and hopeful, it comes coiled from the pit of your gut, at once a winged creature and a dead weight.
6. I wasn’t ready for the man who will soon wait for me in the fading light of a motel room in Barcelona. I tried to explain that when he first approached me, when he asked if our friendship might yield something else. I’m not ready either, he told me.
7. I wanted to keep my cool, for the first time in my life. To really give something a chance for a change.
8. A poet friend told me he had had an affair in Catalonia, with an older woman he encountered beside a fountain. He was upset with his wife, a fitness coach and a perfect ten, because she didn’t understand his poetry. He told me he’d been so certain that the woman he met in Spain was a deep well of wisdom, but she wasn’t interested in his poetry, either.
After they made love, he could only think of how her breasts slid to the side and her feet were bony and ridged with veins.
The friend wasn’t proud of this account: the point of his story honesty, to share his shame with a trusted friend. He felt there was a lesson there about his own gluttony, that his vanity of flesh was even greater than his vanity for the cajoling of his superego.
Even so, I saw him differently after that. I couldn’t help it.
9. The man I used to love was never my lover.
10. He wrote me letters that could turn a girl inside out, but he never did.
11. It was as if he couldn’t bring himself to touch me.
12. I was once at an exhibition of photographs of Spain and Portugal. A couple was arguing in the corner where I was looking. The man kept apologizing for an infraction he was uncertain of. The woman told him to stop beating a dead horse.
13. I get greedy when I give myself to my beloved. I want to be unmarred, unrippled, fresh, smooth, dewy with youth. I want his pleasure to be even more, greater than I can provide. I want to be soft and generous and delicious. I do not know this woman in the mirror, hefty and lined, bitter mouthed, flesh tricked by gravity.
14. Still, I get through to him. I make him whimper. The prevailing myth of caution is misunderstood: love is not blind because it is stupid or desperate, but because it is more than skin deep.
15. Now I will read more Lorca. I will come home in yellow flamenco ruffles, with an icon of the black madonna, or a stone bull.
16. What is love but war, anyways? At the very essence of it, desire, identity, territory.
17. One afternoon, we fell into each other after a long separation of bodies. Let me see the colts, Bill Callahan’s dark voice was singing from the speakers. Kneeling for either of us was tricky, with respective injury and arthritis. It is the motionless, entwined sleep after that matters most, that brings some semblance of sanity to this mortal coil. Is there anything as still as sleeping horses…
17. At the side of the road, somewhere between Taxco and Mexico City, I saw a dead horse. It was ghost white and shiny, a blinding flash as we sped past. The mare was broken, twisted head first at the foot of an incline. She was at once peaceful and violent, terrible and beautiful. The car flew fast, it was over like that, but the picture has never left me.
Lorette C. Luzajic studied journalism at Ryerson University, but went on to pursue creative writing and visual art after graduating. She writes most often about art, travel, and interesting people. She has several books of essays on these subjects, as well as four of poetry, including Aspartame, an ekphrastic collection. Her poetry, short fiction, and prose has appeared in hundreds of publications, including Cultural Weekly, Heart of Flesh, Black Coffee Review, Cargo Literary, the Fiddlehead, Grain, Art Ascent, and Peacock Journal. In 2015, Luzajic founded The Ekphrastic Review, a literary journal devoted exclusively to publishing poetry and prose inspired by art (www.ekphrastic.net). Her mixed media artwork has been exhibited around the world, from the Royal Ontario Museum to Mexico to Tunisia. Visit her at www.mixedupmedia.ca.
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