Pleasure Principle

Apéritifs: In the months leading up to the release of our book “A Single Throat Opens,” a collaborative lyric exploration of addiction, Meghan McClure and I will be compiling a playlist pairing songs with new writing to be enjoyed before the main course. Cheers, friends.

When we first met I was talking to a friend. Later you said, “I heard you making excuses to him and thought you lie just like I do.” And just like that I was the child who covers his eyes. You found me hiding in the open. We lied gracefully together. What a strange truth to admit. There was something elegant about being bound through falsehood, a gymnastic ease in the way we could bend a truth just so.

I read recently how small lies lead to bigger ones in the future, how our brains become desensitized to the negative feelings associated with fooling those nearby. I never hunted so why would I believe I could track the lies like blood on snow toward something beautiful, undamaged? Here is one truth: we never experienced winter together. Here is another: even now when I read the letters you wrote, I hurt. I melt. “You…are the only thing that could shake me.” Although you said it, I am left quaking.

If we can fool ourselves into greater lies, let me begin as small as an almond. I don’t remember the color of your eyes. I don’t remember where we spent our first night together. I don’t remember where I saw you after we stopped talking or the expression on your face when you looked up to see me, then down to your plate, your hands slowly moving to your lap. I don’t remember your husband. I don’t remember what I mouthed as I left.

I didn’t love you immediately or for so long after.

I’ve disguised you in poems, single lines like stitches to keep me together. I think it’s okay now. Unravel me: Chant heavy / three times like you did when I carried you…Pull it further: freckles / sprinkled across her shoulders. You described your own summer-smatter of freckles as “angel cake under nutmeg.” I could still tell you about taste and hunger. Heat. I could show you a primal pleasure, a small hand plunging down into warm cake and frosting, fingers smeared across the lips. O appetite. O insolent, senseless love. We made such a mess.


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