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So much of woman talk is body talk. We spend an incredible amount of time dissecting our bodies, and then dissecting the bodies of other women we see. This is not always a malicious act; most times, it is a non-passionate, objective commentary of what we find attractive in each other.

There is something intimate in the way in which women prepare their bodies. The care they take towards putting their best faces forward; the time they take to pick what suits them best. Some of my favourite memories of my mother, especially as a young child, was watching her dress for an event, brushing her hair away from her face, clipping her earrings on. She never spent too much time, but what time she did spend, was spent wisely, carefully, tenderly.

I learnt young, that body talk, in essence, is politic talk. We spend so much time talking about our bodies because it is by which we are first and foremost, assessed. It is by which, (and this is a sorry fact, but it is what it is) how we assess ourselves. Eventually, if we are among the fortunate few, we begin to understand that our bodies become our first books, pages and pages in which we write our stories, carry our experiences that we have shared with our sisters, our mothers and our lovers. Our bodies will be what draw these women and men to, and away from us.

***

I once remember a lover staring at me in the afternoon light, in the early days of our coming together. He stared at me, as if he had never before seen a woman, and I remember the wonderment in his eyes, and the reverence in his fingers. It may have been the magic of light that hasn’t settled (as afternoon light is wont to do), or it may have been the tender feelings that softly oscillated between love and lust during those early days, but I remember looking at him looking at me, and thinking to myself I could have asked anything of him, anything, then, and he would have said yes.

I did not ask him anything that day, or for days afterwards. And when I did ask him, finally, the most important question of all, it was too late.

By then, my body, like my heart, had started withdrawing.

Reminders.

***

Thread the scent of jasmine in my hair and remember, that I am woman,

and never wholly yours. I dance to the tunes
of your tongue in between my legs only
because I’ve allowed you to come this close and
even then, this ecstasy does not engulf me,
remember this about a woman, she can never fully
be yours, and wise is a man who respects the
negative space of her heart –
if you understood negative space you would know
that it only enhances, never detracts, especially,
maybe solely because she is burning with a
light you ache to carry between your shoulders, man that you are,
(and you never will, you never will)
nor will you will her into submission because the
part of her that gives, and gives birth, and
bleeds like clockwork every month
sings to a tune that only the universe knows
the notes to.

Take note, man, it will do you good to remember this, of a woman.

I am lying on my bed, there is no breeze, the air is still, my breath makes my womb rise up and down. My mother walks into the room, looks at me, and hands me a leaf.

Remember, she says.

I place the once-living on my womb, watch it rise and fall with each breathe I take.

Inhale, exhale. Inhale. Exhale. The leaf sits, placidly.

I’m carrying the beginning and the end on my skin, inside of me.

This is what it means to be a woman.

It’s good to know how you want your lover. 

***

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Skin like satin, he says.
You’re my richness, he says.
I want you, he says.
I want all that you have baby, he says.

(There is nothing more thrilling than a man who tells you what he wants, how he wants you.)

You are my goddess, he says.
Your voice will taste like honey, he says.
I want to lose myself in you, he says.

My lover, he is smooth with words, he is. Smooth, silky words that he lets roll off his tongue, and they land softly on mine, I lick his throat because I want to take his words into me, I want to have a shower in that voice that sounds like simmering hot chocolate on a cold winter day.

There is no winter here in my body, tonight, not when his voice is scuttling along my skin and his fingers are tracing the veins on my eyelids.

There is only a raging fire, a desert land that is learning how sensuous rainfall can be.

Your wild hair, he says.
Those lips, he says.
Those dark smouldering eyes, he says.
That sharp, sharp mind, he says.

(There is nothing sexier than a man who sees you with your scars and stretch marks and makes love with words before he makes love with your skin.)

He pays homage to me, but I’m not paying attention because he is feeding ecstasy and I am starved. I am a woman who wants a man, my man, and here he is, lying prostrate at my alter, and I devour him, because I am powerful; he is reduced to pleasure, sounds which I drink from his chest, from his thighs, from the curve of his spine, and … Silence.

We are too busy now.

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 Taken in Singapore.

I was really really angry. When I’m angry, I bleed. 

***

Let’s talk about about bleeding.

Let’s talk about when my vagina gasps
once a month, mouth opening
and streams of pain emanate from
skin pores,
sweat glistening,
brows furrowed yes,

let’s talk about bleeding.

Does it make you uncomfortable, me
baring my woman like this to you, am
I
inappropriate and unclean, made
to
sit outside the hearth and banned
from entering the perimeters of the
kitchen
because
I was born with breasts and a loud
uterus yes,

let’s talk about bleeding.

You, Mother, who tell me how to stand
short and sit small and hide
my face behind a
becoming-veil and
wear the face of
“Modesty”
because I am woman now, aren’t I,
Mother yes,

let’s talk about bleeding.

But,
Mother, I don’t understand how you
use that tone of voice and that shape of
face and you are so quick to tell me how to
“be a woman” when
I see you wiping the corner of your mouth
quietly after Father is finished with you,
yes, that red too, blood isn’t it,
Mother, tell me, is
that blood cleaner from a man’s fist than that
from my virginal, untouched
womb yes,

let’s talk about bleeding.

When I see you running to Grandmother with
tears in your eyes as you hear the
story, again, always in hushed whispers,
right Mother,
about how your sister’s daughter died of a
broken heart and a broken hymen after
she became unclean through the
brutality of
men
who saw her as meat to to be served, best
medium-rare, speckled with fresh blood yes,

let’s talk about bleeding;

bleeding this society out, and removing the
toxins of our sins and those of our
forefathers who created rules
based on blood and skin color and who
spun stories of demon warriors and gold encased gods
but forgot about the creatures  born of
Earth,
small wailing bloody girl-babies who
were drowned into silence and removed
from the atrocities of this bloodless society yes.

Mother, please, please, please,

let’s talk about bleeding.