This happened.This was.
There are women’s bodies I have known as well as the bodies of my lovers.There are women’s bodies I have known better.
I have known the fake and the fist and the follow through.I have known the hanging lock, the thumb lock, the kotegaishi. On a small hand, a larger hand, a hand with callouses, nails dark with grease. I have known exactly how far one wrist, one shoulder must be pushed to cause pain. And how differently far another.
I have known the snap of tendons over a joint not my own. I have known the tang of sweat in the clinch, the heaviness of a leg in the partner stretch, the breeze from a kick that kissed my cheek.I have known how she leaves the ground with both feet as she spars, knees high like a step dancer.
I have known knees, insteps, hands in my groin. I have known the smell of breath, armpits, hair, skin. I have put my foot to her foot, knee to her knee, hip to her hip, palm to her collarbone, hand between her thighs. I have stepped under her, bent my knees, lifted her onto my shoulders.I have felt my elbow pulled like a wishbone in her hands.
I have taken a kick to the kidney, elbow to the nose, punch to the face, my brain concussed in its bony cage. I have been sore the next day, bruised the next day, unable to bend, run, work, find my way out of the subway.I have closed my forearm against her windpipe, pulled her hair against my face. I have put my hands around her throat. I have buried my hand in her soft buzz cut, grasped a handful of curls crisp with hairspray, closed my fist around her shiny ponytail.
I have felt the mat on my back and her hips on my abdomen, hands pinning my wrists.I have known the rhythm of sticks like handclap games, disarmed the rubber knife, swung the bo staff.
I have known the patterns like dance and a roomful of bodies moving in unison. I have known the black canvas uniform sodden with sweat.I have known the bodies of women not with words or sight but in the shape of my body against them, our muscles straining together. I have known a wordless sisterhood of study and struggle. Our bodies have made the same movements. My bloodstream is freighted with the memory of their touch.
Whatever happens, this is.