Sometimes, I say body and feel like a woman who is speaking at a women’s circle in Venice Beach, or a freshly divorced woman talking to her sex therapist. When I say it, there is a kind of histrionic, ironic distance, a nice buffer, a soft layer I enjoy, which is also the layer between me and English. A kind of blue goo, something soft that cushions the blow, the wound of language. My husband says I swear a lot in English. It’s true, I enjoy it. Apparently, I regularly pile swear words on top of each other to make new, ever more extreme configurations. “It’s as if you don’t quite feel the full blow of each word,” he says. To demonstrate this, he swears in Spanish and even with his gringo accent, it’s true, I can’t endure the hijeuputas for very long.
Between Spanish and me, there is no protective layer aside from a certain clumsy softness in the tongue like vodka if I haven’t spoken it in a few days. Between cuerpo and I, things get too intimate too fast. When I say cuerpo, it’s like a drink I forgot having suddenly kicks in. With cuerpo, I am sweating even when I am not and it’s disgusting. With cuerpo, the noon sun bakes my skin to a fleshy red a little extra. With cuerpo, I can feel the blades of grass like razors. With cuerpo, I feel faint. With cuerpo, I am exposing myself. With cuerpo, I am full of hesitation. With cuerpo, I feel like I am incriminating myself. With cuerpo, I feel excruciatingly shy and wordless. With cuerpo, I feel a little obscene. When I say cuerpo, its double meaning as corpse becomes more evident to me than in English, even though body has the identical double meaning.
Between Spanish and me, there is no protective layer aside from a certain clumsy softness in the tongue like vodka if I haven’t spoken it in a few days.
These meanings, body, cuerpo, shift and change. But they remain distinct from each other. With body, I am talking about someone else. With cuerpo, I am thrown into the world. I am not quite an object; I am not quite the subject either. What I am becomes unclear. I have no protection.
It’s been hard, between cuerpo and I.