Saturday, April 3, 2010


The sap is rising.

On a morning walk to the el a few days ago, I saw two squirrels mating on the side of the tree. I exclaimed, and instinctively averted my eyes, to protect their--or my own--modesty. The heard/saw me coming, and carefully scuttled around the tree, never too far from the other, a few inches at a time. "Don't let him take it from you unless you want him to take it from you, sista," I said to the lady squirrel. I'm not sure why I looked away in such surprise. The squirrels have nothing to protect, no reason to try and preserve their copulation from the accidental glance of humans or anything else. They have to get theirs sometime, somewhere. It reminds me of that Pablo Neruda poem* that ends with a man and his girl going at it full tilt on a bicycle. That experience knows something I hope I may never have to know. Unless sex on a bicycle is good sex--but I don't see how: sounds awkward and distracting.

Once I arrived at the train station, I fended off a number of comments from the Peanut Gallery, from "Good Morning, beautiful"--charming but also a bit smarmy--to a gibberish mouthful of rastafarian prayers and salutations hollered at my back, presumably in praise of my locs.

Many things I love about spring: more sunshine, blossoming, milder temperatures, birds in the morning. But I hate, HATE the fact that spring gives men permission to catcall women. All of a sudden, a woman goes from master of her own fate to object for ogling and making lascivious overtures to. Can't we wear short and gauzy and sleeveless without being subjected to the overactive libidos of strange men? Most recently I walked through this crowd of guys and they all ogled me and then began loudly babbling more of these Rasta chants in shitty Jamaican accents. It gets so in just trying to get into the Howard Street station and get on the train, I can't hold my chin up. It makes me so mad that the harassment of strangers causes me to lower my head, as if I am ashamed of my own beauty. I hate that strange men think it is their right as possessors of penis to treat my body in such a way. If each of us is born in the image of God, then my physicality is an extension of Christ; I am the body of Christ. I feel like I'm being pissed on when this kind of thing happens.

It is unacceptable to me that this is just the ways of men, that I should take this as a compliment, that I have this coming because I can fill out my jeans well. I am not even trying to give this away, and already they are taking it from me.

* Poor Fellows by Pablo Neruda

What it takes, on this planet,

to make love to each other in peace:

everyone pries under your sheets,

everyone interferes with your loving.

They say terrible things

about a man and a woman

who, after much milling about,

all sorts of compunctions,

do something unique--

they both lie with each other in one bed.

I ask myself whether frogs

are so furtive, or sneeze as they please,

whether they whisper to each other in

swamps about illegitimate frogs

or the joys of amphibious living.

I ask myself if birds

single out enemy birds

or bulls gossip with bullocks before

they go out in public with cows.

Even the roads have eyes,

and the parks their police,

hotels spy on their guests,

windows name names,

cannons and squadrons debark

on missions to liquidate love--

all those ears and those jaws

working incessantly,

till a man and his girl

have to race to their climax

full-tilt on a bicycle.

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