The Decay We Dedicate to Tomorrow

In the summer, I get skinny.

Alan Hanson is a writer from California. 

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In the summer, I get skinny.

That heat comes in and honey, I’m lonely, fevered, downing bottles before they can bead—the city reeks mad in the summer. Everyone’s just a little bit. Unhinged. When I’m anxious, when I’m worse, I get skinny. I stay out late nights, in a t-shirt, and I get dark and I stare at my wrists.

You have big hair and you’re flirting with me in The Black Cat and I’m staring at my wrists.

Toothpick and wire, my weight is my worry. Maybe you don’t notice but it’s all I see, waving these angry wands, these elbows all ball-peen, these pipe arms without comfort to offer, without protection. I’m nothing but angles. You’re wincing. There’s a wince beneath your smile.

Why am I telling you this? I’m trying to cut you a key.

My knees won’t stop their knock. I can hear their sharp bark beneath my jeans, no matter how much jean I wear. They’re rocks, banging against the door as I stuff this metal frame into my car, while my shoulder blades dig into the leather, peaks against the seatback, sitting in traffic, pushing my fingers into the gutters of my ribs.

I can touch them all. Each bone felt another reminder of my wilt, the decay we dedicate to tomorrow. Signifier death, signifier loneliness.

Like a ledge, like a ladder’s rung, my collarbones are a cliff I hang my hands upon. My grip pulls and yanks, contemplates just how easy it’d be to rip them from me, when I’m idle, anxious. I’ve got bars. God forbid I take my shirt off.

Fuck. We’re going to the beach.

Chicken legs. (Waste.) Chicken legs. (Now a greenhouse, a greenhouse that smells of death.) Chicken legs. (Nothingness.)

*

You’re back in Los Angeles. “You’ve lost weight,” you say, like it’s a good-bye, or surrender, and you, floral as ever, still want to fuck. Unfathomable.

The razor tips of my hips, protruding from taut skin, rubbed red from my waistband, begin to grin. But the blush is brief and me, I can’t shake the grief. Above your body, I’m merely a pile of knives, something so nearly dead pushing into something wildly alive.

And when I moan I’ll try to keep my mouth shut. So you won’t see my teeth. For who would love me, with this many gnashing cavities? This many crooked shards? The holes in my molars are a sign: beware this house that can’t take care of itself. And if I can’t help me, this beaten brigade of bones, how can I help you? You’re going to see that. And you’re going to leave.

After, and after you’ve left to the restroom on sturdy tiptoe, I lie under the bed linen my sharp form so specific, my skeleton such a scrape, and feel like the discovered remains of some unidentified corpse, lying in a shallow grave, sheet like a shroud.

Oh the brittle battle of my bones’ rattle. Are my shoulders sneering at you? Can’t you look away? Is the vector of my spine keeping you at bay?

I wish I could be full for you. I wish I could be your meal. I wish you could put a pat of butter on my patella and sink your teeth into my fleshy thighs. I want my body to be your home. Or even mine.

And when the stranger at the party says, “But you’re so thin!” I think, “Believe me, I know, and oh how I feel it, racing toward me—one large, lonely zero.

And I’m gone.”

No one keeps what they can’t see.

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