Bodies

There are bodies. There are bodies of water. We are bodies of water, water bags just floating around, mostly mindless, waiting for the eventual implosion. 

Every body is a timer counting down. Every second brings us a step closer to the eventual rest, every new year is a reminder that the body does not have much left. Telomeres are shortening, cells are rebelling. The skin records every laughter and every teardrop.

The body soaks in oxygen, drinks in water, bloats with excesses. It sees beautiful things and yearns to possess them. The mushrooms angry with light, the serpentine pitchers of nectar. 

The woodpecker is furious against glass. It hurls its body against its image. It pecks, furiously, once, twice, again and again. What does this tiny feathered body seek? What does it want so desperately that it would batter itself with such fierceness? 

What does this body want? Can it fold itself into neat rectangles to be tucked into the drawer and called upon as and when necessary?

Sometimes, the body tussles with its ego. So easy to be restless, to be greedy, to want more, to keep wanting, to consume and keep consuming. The body needs to learn contentment. It has all its bourgeoisie comforts and still hankers after that exquisite plant or quixotic workplace. Be still, body, restless ambitious body, be quiet.

The body argues all. the. time. It loves arguments, particularly those with itself. Is this self-love or self-entertainment, the body does not know.

There is another body, white and frilly and aglow. It promises to love, one and only, now and forever. A vow in front of the altar, in the company of loved ones. But does that body know such a promise is frivolous? It can promise to love for now but not for ever. Who knows what the next year may bring. Who knows what the next hour may bring. A taxi beating the red light can rearrange lives.

Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold. Marriages dissolve like sugar or salt. There are few ways to live wondrously but so many ways to fail, some as tiny as a grammar slip, some as spectacular as a slap in the face. The body keeps returning to the sound recording, that confrontation between once-lovers.

The body aches, it complains. It had taken the ichor of youth lightly, spent it frivolously on late nights, bad postures and books read in dim lighting. Its cells chronicle every micro-transgression after the age of thirty. There can be white hair or backaches or crow’s feet or skin that takes increasingly more time to sink back into its position after being pinched.

It is inexorable, the sluggish metabolism, the gradual piling of weight. The body finds it difficult to lose weight. The body must lose weight. It carries its unhappiness around, fats that sit resolutely on the arm, the belly, the cheeks. The body does not want to be an obese dinosaur which a python won't want to eat.

And yes, the body is elastic. It stretches to contain the self, to accommodate serendipities. It sheds old skin that no longer fits. There is space within for mousedeer, pit vipers, spiny hill terrapins, nepenthes gracilis and a stenocladus larva. There is space for the kapok tree taller than a giraffe and there is space for the ladybug as shiny as a water droplet. 


The body must be reassured, that its efforts are not for naught, that it is appreciated, it exists and its existence is affirmed, if not at least acknowledged. The body is excitable, though not excited often. 

The body wavers between apathy and antipathy. 

The body is impatient with itself. It seeks retirement before it is ready. It wants trauma to leave scars, but only scars of a certain depth and pattern, but only scars fit to be eulogised into poetry. 

It's the last day of 2020 and the body is in the living room, listening to angst-songs, sipping plain water from a huge glass mug. It remembers the family of ex-colleagues, how nasi lemak would be bought for one another on Fridays.

The body is one big eye, looking backward then swivelling to face the unknown. The body knows it must be ready. The body, like all other bodies, has very little say in the swelling river of seconds, minutes, hours, days. The planetary rotations will continue, the bodies will age. 

The body is ready. The body is.

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