The Wounding

by Laura Lentz

My fascination with all things to do with penises began with my father’s, when he strutted into the kitchen with his blue boxes shorts for his first cup of morning coffee, where a faint, thin public hair teased at the opening, and inside the fabric was all I heard for years on the other side of my childhood bedroom wall. I caught them once when I went into their bedroom in the middle of the night with a fever, and there was my mother, imprinting the mattress, like a starfish underneath my father. His knife-cock seemed to wound her, and whatever he was wounding her with was hiding in my father’s boxer shorts, soft and yielding between his legs in the yellow kitchen, under cotton fabric, and when I looked for it, from across the room, all I could see was him pressing down into her, and her head hanging off the corner of the bed, her breasts sinking toward her open mouth, her long curls skimming the ground.

Later, in puberty, when my own body awakened to the clothesline pole, pressing in the banana of my banana seat bike, I still wasn’t sure that my father wasn’t hurting her. Because so often when the wounding in the middle of the night was over, my mother would came into my bedroom, her thin purple flower robe stuck to her thighs, lonely – looking for company, slipping her post orgasmic body in under the covers beside me – me who had shared her flesh, who was her flesh. She’d pour her loneliness into my child body like a post shudder, – palpable, dripping in fear as she told me she loved me more than anyone, even him. My closed eyelids fluttered to the lie of sleep, not wanting even to take in her loneliness or his hardness.

How do women sleep after orgasm? I have never known what to do with the loneliness or the energetic rush that follows two people shedding all pretense, stripped of the way we mask ourselves through the world…bone to bone, pours leaking into pours, energies colliding and slipping, breath quickening and everything hardening, become harder and harder, knees and elbows pressed into headboards, floorboards, grass, sand, rock – the rock of body and hipbones crashing before the softening, before the release, when anything ever left behind rushes in …the child without a mother, the dog who jumps out of the car into traffic, your own abandoned self when you see the distance returning to your lover’s eyes.

After, the bodies soften, like molten lava leaving its source, killing everything in its path. That’s why sex and death are often intertwined in literature. It’s those minutes after orgasm that prepare you for re-preservation, when anything can happen – anything can enter your open, vulnerable, softened being.

I often took my mother’s arm resting on my waist and lifted it gently, placing it between us, creating the boundary of mother and daughter from lust, disappointment and the universal sorrow of women – who carry life on our backs, in between our legs, even if we have never had a child, we release it and carry it and release it, and somehow we don’t die in the process.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Philip Brautigam
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