When you told me that someone else helped you bind during our time apart, I was jealous. Though you never said you wanted to do that when I was near you, years ago, I penned a poem about binding a lover. It was a memory of a previous relationship but instead of him I imagined you. Every detail of the poem is your body. I wish I could remember the day I wrote it. Did you bind some time in January of 2009? No matter now. I workshopped the poem to death and you’re over it now.
…and you’re back.
I know you don’t believe in God, but something must be said for the power of gravity.
I have learned from you that love is constantly facing embarrassment. It is meant to undo us, and comfort us still. This is why it ain’t nobody’s business. This is why none of this makes sense and all of it makes absolute fucking sense.
Every night for the past two weeks I have been searching for you with my backside. You aren't there and I double over onto myself, wanting. Mornings are no better. I feel the ghost of your lips on my back and swim in myself. It takes hours to get out of bed these days because at least there, my body can remember you fully. The day, with its monotonous tasks, the cat litter, the walk to my office, the coffee machine, takes me away from this. Once in a while I get caught back in the feeling of you and find my body reacting. I allow the sensation to enter and then…
I'm in the line at the cafe, standing at the copy machine, waiting for the red light turning green.
Over the past four months I have decided to take refuge in the possibility that I am crazy. That, this feeling, though quite poetic, is an embarrassing mistake. I’ve been drinking a lot. Listening to a lot of songs that I wish were dedicated to me. I’ve been turning down propositions, not in hope for you, but in mourning of what I think were delusions. I do not want anyone to touch my sadness. Then you call me, say you’re sorry and that you want to talk to me without animosity. The phone cuts out and I feel crazy again.
You called because you know quite well that there is no animosity. You called because you hope that you can get that feeling back. You called because you need forgiveness. You called, but you are not sorry. You always need forgiveness. I cannot give you the forgiveness you need. I’m sorry.
BETTINA JUDD is an interdisciplinary writer, artist, and performer whose research focus is on Black women's creative production and our use of visual art, literature, and music to develop Black feminist thought. Her collection of poems on the history of medical experimentation on Black women titled Patient. won the 2013 Black Lawrence Press Hudson Book Prize. She is currently Assistant Professor of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle.