Skinny Love

Come on skinny love just last the year–
Pour a little salt we were never here.

 –“Skinny Love,” by Bon Iver

 Ten minutes before the crash, I threw a tent and yoga mat in the backseat, and a pack of cigarettes in the front, and hit “start” on an old lover’s playlist.

The highway would eventually lead to a field nine hours south, where other mothers and daughters lay in sleeping bags; where a brown-skinned woman would teach us new ways of looking at the moon. I’d return, smelling of crushed spices and roots, a new and improved version of myself. This is what I hoped for, at least, when the yellow garbage truck pulled out in front of me.

A funny thing happens when you go from 50 mph to 0. Time loses its grip. Seconds splay out before you like drunk buffoons. And meaningless questions splinter your reality: How am I going to pitch my tent now before dark? Is my bottle of Makers still in the back seat? Am I going to die? Am I already dead? And finally, how is the other driver going to fix this mess?

The sanitation workers approached me like I was a ticking time bomb, asking ridiculously if I was “okay.” A police officer took photos of the wreck on my phone that would later make me gasp. I remember the paramedic stopping me as I tried to climb out the window. “Ma’am,” he said, “I can’t let you do that. I’ve gotta come get you out of there.”

What I wanted more than anything was a hug.

Sometimes I picture a holographic me ascending from my body, reaching back in through the smashed cab of the truck, and lifting me out. I whisper tenderly in my own ear, “You’re okay. I will sit with you by your hospital bed; and later, I will take you to dinner and read you poems from my back pocket; I’ll hang your curtain rods for you and pay your bills; I’ll stare into your soul for minutes at a time and call you smart, and sexy, and ‘goddess.'”

As women, we settle for “skinny” all the time, starving ourselves of our own love, looking for someone else to show us our constellations, to rescue us from the wreck.

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Salwa Emerson, Copyright 2023 © All rights Reserved. Design by Catalyst Squared