My lover tenderly traces the tiny red veins on my thigh and asks how I bruised myself. I redirect his eye and his hand to the purple and yellow patch on my other leg, where I’ve been running into the bed corner for days in this house that is not my home, in this city that is not mine, with this heart that is overflowing with you.
While lover kisses my bruise, his face turned away from mine, I trace the red veins with my fingers. A stamp of you, when you gave me life. When you gave me all. My body a map to reach you. To return to you. For you to find your way back to me. I look for more lines. Behind my left knee. Above my right calf. Halfway down my right thigh. And some small islands above that. You are everywhere. My head of black hair. My supple hips. Good teeth. Long and delicate fingers.
“What nice hands you have!” says lover. “A strong heart.”
More than half my life lived already and with you now on the other side, my body, like my mind, grows closer to yours. When you died, you entered me completely. I laugh for two. I cry for two. I think I may even be falling in love for two. I carry you in me. Eating for two.
I take you to the river front, knowing you saw too much of the world’s wretchedness, and not enough of its beauty. On a warm August night, along the River Spree, we flirt with the French Waiter who says nothing of his Arab blood when you ask him where he’s from. He blushes, as do I, when you tell him of his beauty as the half moon rises in his eyes. Later we waltz in the moonlight. To be held close in a young man’s arms. To not let go of his lips. To feel the swelling between our legs. How you lived with that old man all your life. How I understood my body so little, you say. For the sake of the children, they said. For the sake of the children. I begin to cry. Maybe now you understand why I have none. My mother. My self.
Two nights ago you started to kick. I didn’t know if it was something I had eaten or the panic of being inside this new body or the longing for more. But you kicked against my heart so hard. TAK. TATATAT. TAK. TAK. Like a bird thrashing against a cage. How we fight to be free.
Yesterday, while we looked at sketches of mothers holding their dead babies in that stuffy building that barely survived the war, you made us leave almost immediately. I wanted to climb to the top of the church steeple in Kurfurstendamm, but you were too upset and made us go back home.
I cried this morning knowing you will die with me. That once I go, we go. And there will be no one to laugh for us. To cry for us. To eat for us. My unborn child. My dead mother.
But enough of these morbid thoughts. You’d rather laugh and enjoy being finally alive now. You say, we should see a French movie, wear tight pants that extenuate our hips, and pleasure ourselves in the afternoon. Replace a lifetime of shame. A lifetime of sacrifices. YES. Let’s smoke and drink and make art. Let’s live a little. I want to learn to play the cello. Why not, you say. Anything is possible. For now. While we live. While we are together. Eating for two.