The house of his mother and late father. His temple. These institutions, a pumping brachas heart. To get him alone, I pimp myself to other lands. I implore: Let’s go where we have some chance.
The stallions have: faces of horror, lips stretched back, huge molars, a look of hysteria in their plasticine, brown eyes. I stand in the middle, locked to the clay floor with my feet.
Is your father Jewish?
It is certain: No.
They rise and duck gracefully, the motion of a carousel. The very high windows cannot reach or block them, and I am hurt by the brightness pouring out instead. These giant heads lurch up, back down. Lurch, reach, up. Back, reach, down.
Penso che ti amo-- ti amo. My face turns blunt, from what comes through your eyes.
Three weeks have passed.
We end so many times, I find it hard to hold onto my pride. I cry at the most inopportune times, like on the treadmill and at my student’s apartment.
Today, we focus on words often found at the butcher. Because we are in Italy, it is mostly pork. Prosciutto. Excuse me, I was in line first. I would like one pound of (pantomime: point).
My twelve-year old laughs, because this is all silly. He stares at my breasts, his eyes glaze over. It is almost one hour and a half, and he asks if we can sing. The parents come in and stand in the background, so proud. My eyes are shining and everyone thinks I am glad. Being gone back to is as much my defeat as yours.
The stallions change into handicaps. They do not become tall when elongated. Light comes through in fractals, neither blocked or flowing, and your balls are separate from mine by panties. Sometimes, you rub so much. How keeping something far increases its risk of becoming your everything.
But, when can we leave your sister’s Sabbath? Your mother and brother come home, give us time to get out of the corner. I am sweating, halfway up the living room wall.
The time we played house only happened because your mother was in Israel. You took off my clothes, smashing us onto the dining room table. My nakedness crashed into the candle holders, the china, sending relic everywhere.
The horse faces are less scary now, because of how slow they move-- more paralyzed than ominous. I pat one on its head. When the horse goes down, its face and miniature body brush my knees, the place I reach from, before it bobs back up. The light makes a checkerboard shadow that comes off my front.
Two hours after your fingers are inside of me, your mother says, This is my son’s friend. How beautiful, they say. We shout l’shana tova over our shoulders, then you slam my cab door shut.
To catch one’s breath: a slovenly cat swiping at 1,000 inebriated mice. Your arm keeps swinging, a cat’s paw without bones.
At midday, no one is here except the bodybuilders who look in the mirror and put down heavy things after hoisting them. I am jealous of their wisdom, the simplicity of this choice. They do not see me, nor do they hear me. They might hear me, but they are busy looking at themselves, so they cannot be bothered.
I fall further onto the conveyor belt. My knees buckle and my arms are useless slits of fleshy bone banging into my sides.
I decrease my incline to 0.5.
Everything is spinning, except your face. Which is so clear in front of me.
Why do you bring me pizzette when I am at the gym?
Why do you bring me my favorite food from my favorite place?
Why are you the kind of perfect I am sure I will never find again?
I drop all my flesh pieces, bottom first, onto the belt. I am choking on mucus.
I wait until the hill becomes flat. When it is still, I crawl off to find something to take care of my face.
Enough for me. Happy for me! My grand|mother is Jewish. Not Enough. (Nor Happy). For You.
Cohen means priest. The exalted ones.
There will be no eternal, sensuous intermingling with
(i) a widow
(ii) a convert
(iii) a divorcée or
(iv) a woman whose father is not Jewish.
My Latina roots go deep-- there is my father, Jaime, and my grandfather Alfredo Guillermo (ז״ל) on my mother’s side. They are both Ecuadorian. My father is raised in Ecuador until he is eight, then comes to America with his mother. His family is Catholic. No, I was not raised with him, yes, I went to Hebrew School, yes, I had a Bat Mitzvah. I write these details to the head sephardic rabbi in Israel. The first time, he swiftly tells us: No.
דִּינָה means judged and vindicated. Knock, knock. The only daughter of Jacob, remembered as a woman of passion.
We re-appeal about a year later, because we can’t keep our hands off each other, our dreams, or our demons. We re-appeal, because the rabbi is the only place he seeks a Yes.
Curious: a type of heart shift. a type of meadow. a learnt way about holding. a continual lessonabout how much a tablespoon can hold before everything spills, and the cake must start again. Curious. Where I left my head, and focused on yours.
After we handwrite our appeals in English and Hebrew, they are delivered personally. The rabbi responds with more flair: he sends black and white photocopies of the law. They state he cannot be with me, because he will lose the Cohanim. I cut up the law, pin it to lingerie, and I am a Walking Restriction that Halloween, then later, photograph myself shamelessly in my bedroom. People love the photos, say they do not recognize me. Say, they see.
The meaning of the Cohanim: Lose! his connection to his father (ז״ל) Lose! his place in his community, temple, and family Lose! his oxygenated sense of those spaces. Gain! A woman you love and who loves you
Love how sea turtles climb over turtles and land, the same kind of steady. The kind of land, which tricks you into thinking you are only where you are born. The rabbi adds: You need not try again.
The stallions begin turning towards each other-- half remain handicap, half grow tall. I watch as the tall one begins its descent and the small one lunges forward
up and down and up and down
and takes a bite, pieces of the tall one’s snout, fur, and blood caught in the small one’s teeth, sweat mixed of the two of them, dampening their manes. The tall face screams, its gumline stretching, eyes rolling back, as the body calmly (knowing the routine) continues its descent, then its motion upward. The small one laughs with full teeth, front and back.
I do not move, terrified they will realize someone has seen this cannibalism. I am turned on thinking what I can do with this grotesque knowledge. Where I can take it.
Each time the tall one dips, the small one takes another chunk: its wide, smooth brow; its frozen eyes; its long, black mane. The teeth move onto the neck, large and ebony, the shoulder blades, the torso and huge belly, the ass with its thick tail. Its face moves swiftly, taking in large bites its front legs, first the right, then the left, then moves to the back when it descends, swallowing its haunches whole, both at the same time. Its mouth opens so big. I see the tall horse parts inside, screeching.
Until there is nothing left. (The stallions are arranged one small then one tall, so by the end, only small ones are left, with empty spaces in between.) The small one hops on the incline, bows on the decline, like a carousel, a half-empty playring.
My feet make themselves move. I see it, closeby, on the ground. A tall one’s heart.
I bring it close, rocking my arms, sticky to my chest. It wiggles, making a hole with little legs in my shirt. Little arms come out, then make a hole in my skin, above where my heart is. It keeps digging until it pulls back all the skin with both hands and laughs with glee-- there, my heart, pumping, the color of soot. It jumps in, fuses, a red so slippery, the colour of a gypsy skirt. It weaves in fat lines, as if a slug has passed over. It mistakes my heart for a diploid, a curvy completeness, my own arms just at their sides, at rest.
Later, I will close this all up, but for now I am too heavy and joyful. My eyes push down my neck, straining towards, trying to see what they see.