A Few Short Words

Dense Not Thick




I watch him thinking about dressing, sorting shirts with languid but strangely staccato grace, muscles and mindset in checkerboard accord. You’re beautiful, I tell him, the word settling on his shoulders as dust might. He doesn’t flinch but contracts bodily, a movement between sigh and shudder, almost imperceptibly fine except for the slightest shift of the eye. ‘Thank you,’ he says, stretching a shirt over his frame. You are, though, so beautiful, and you don’t get told enough. ‘Honey,’ he says, ‘knowing you believe it is more than enough.’ I see him dressed, a clash of reality and perception.


I get more paint on my hands than the canvas and look upon myself with reckless appreciation. ‘I can’t make art,’ I tell the walls, but the inside voice tells me otherwise. What if, it says, what if you were the art? Imagine the entirety of space, the unlikelihood of earth, billions of compositions in fleshy permutation, vying and dying, striving and thriving, conniving against infinitesimal odds to exist in improbable events. Existence, then, must be art. I put down my paints and look at myself again through this new lens. Beauty lies in the I of the beholder.


I love the creases, those little folds where two bits of skin butt together and force a compromise, the coarse, cold lustre in the raw fact of a body and the ability of our meticulous machines to contain the capacity for flaw. Perfection seems almost imprecise to me now, lazy somehow. Let me see the curves and bumps and blemishes and errors, they are impeccably base, idiosyncratic, artistically erotic, and easily outstrip any attempt at replication or suppression. Undressing the body of ideals reveals a form where nothing gorgeous is the norm and beauty is selfless and sensuously free.


She pours thoughts upon me in the morning like sweet molasses creeping in the sun. I grow sticky with her residue. ‘I want to make the world beautiful,’ she says, not realising her presence is a progenitor of belief. ‘I want the world to be better, so badly,’ she says. ‘Why don’t people understand that the world can be art?’ I place my hand over her heart, breast adjacent with no connotation, and misuse her borrowed words. People don’t want more than they can understand. Pure beauty, as you want, as you are, is more than most can take.


Eventually I run out of bullshit to say and tell her, you‘re beautiful. Arris gives me one of her soft looks and says, ‘I know.’ Her words stick in my heart as the most wonderful of splinters, I collect them now and forge little tableaux with the material. When they are ready I unveil them to her like proud popsicle constructions of architectural marvels. ‘This is good,’ she always says, and gives me tips toward their betterment. You’re not merely beautiful but right, I tell her. ‘So are you,’ she says, unloading a fresh batch of structural substance.


Arris looks out over the waterfall and is still for a moment. ‘The sound will never be the same,’ she says, ‘every trickled note is a new iteration of combination and intonation but the effect over time is homogeneity.’ I suggest it’s one of natures menial magics and she shakes her curls against my neck. ‘It’s us playing the trick,’ she says, ‘it’s too beautiful for us to handle so we drown it out.’ I look out over the waterfall and listen to the world move through time. I tell her, I can hear every moment of our lives.

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