Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 8 No. 2 | Summer 1986 (Seattle) /// Issue 16 of 24 /// Master# 64 of 73

BOD Y A X By Sara Gr; Photo-paintin \ / l arie was middlea 9ed and had only recently lost a few of her 1 VJ. more than two hundred pounds when she became involved with her own body in a rather aesthetically sensual manner. Though Marie had never been one to confuse bathroom jokes with literature or smut with art, the process of elimination fascinated her with its qualities of urgency and basic satisfaction. It was, in fact, one of those rarely spoken experiences for which she had profound respect. So, although the irony did not escape her, Marie was not shocked to find herself in a most heart-rending sympathy with the soft smooth surface of her fat ageing thighs while sitting on the toilet one morning shortly after her 45th birthday— perhaps it might have been Theresa’s 45th birthday. Marie wanted to tell Theresa about it so they could roar with laughter before becoming fascinated by what it might mean over a cup.of coffee or a glass of wine. She remembered rubbing the thin smoothness of Theresa’s legs, immobile, aching; Theresa saying, “Oh, that feels so much better”; but in a few moments needing more morphine and one more or less pillow under them. I A r ' equiescat in pace old friend,” she whispered, devoid of faith. It was true that J. Vafter she had removed the catheter, straightened the cold thin legs, removed the pillows one last time, straightened the sheets, washed the beautiful chiseled face, penciled in the eyebrow lost to chemotherapy and/or radiation, and closed the eye that insisted on opening a bit as though peeking at the watchful mourners, Theresa’s body, in its final stillness, bore a semblance of peace. <77 1his angle rounding seemed magnificent l caressing a reclining \ sculpture she experie of art. She was overw pleasure of her own J “She is at peace at last, my darling girl,” said the mother. “Thank God the agony is over,” said one sister. “It looks like she’s smiling at us,” said the other. So do we create a final peace for our lost companions. So do we create an end to our own intolerance of pain and fear of death. Does the pain stop at death? Is the spirit free of the miserable bondage? It could as well be that like an amputee the spirit continues to suffer the body’s afflictions. Ignorant cowards and lovers, we solve the mystery otherwise, concluding in perfectly fearful faith that which we have no way of knowing. ^everal weeks after discovering her thighs, Marie, nervous and bored with undone L^ztasks at hand, went to her room to change clothes. Disrobed, she lay down on the bed, experiencing an immediate and remarkable comfort. Lying upon her side with one big round knee bent, the perfect small foot pressed upon the bed near her hip, she rested her hand on her waist deep within the curved arc of rib and hip. She ran her hand up her side, brushing past the small breast to her armpit, then down again into the deep cavity of waist and on up the smooth high softness of the huge hip, then down the previously discovered wonder of her thigh. This angle rounding forth from her waist seemed magnificent to Marie. As though caressing a reclining Renaissance nude sculpture she experienced herself as a work of art. She was overwhelmed by the pleasure of her own beauty. To some unknown, to the priest behind the curtain in her own mind, she confessed her love of this grand body, this sensuous frame, this “all too solid flesh” which two score and five had transported her consciousness. She proclaimed a passionate love of her own body and the agony and fear of losing it. She prayed to hold body and soul together. She BBSs®! wept. Theresa said , several days before she died, “My spirit is getting fat,” with some concern— as if a reducing diet were in order. It was perhaps only an aspect of her integrity that Theresa was worried about any sort of fatness, for cancer had quite effectively concluded her lifelong struggle against extra weight. Reverting to tradition for the duration Marie took comfort in Theresa’s fat spirit, considering it a harbinger of immortality. Marie endured migraines for several months after Theresas death. One memorable episode was She knew her body w death, but she did not k really stop. What if it H throughout eternity? Me to the solace of traditio relieved by nothing but a near overdose of opiates after two and a half hours of agony. The pain was so extreme that she was unable to lie still with the wet cold rag which usually brought relief. She was up and down, taking pills, pacing, then running amuck. I I eath occurred to Marie as a way out; but, suddenly, she knew with absolute certainty that there was no guarantee the pain would not go on. She knew her body would look peaceful in death, but she did not know if the pain would really stop. What if it went on and on throughout eternity? And what if Theresa’s fat spirit had simply taken on the agony of her wasted body? Marie, aching for a return to the solace of tradition, yearned for faith. Upon such frequent occasions of existential discontent, Marie began to console herself by placing a hand on her waist, if standing, or thigh, if sitting. One of these times she recalled an awareness of her own dying mother’s body—how beautifully smooth and soft her mother’s skin seemed, like that of a young girl. This singular, sensual experience was recalled in Marie’s body as well as in her mind. Now Marie began to wonder if her recent awareness of the beauty of her own body was not simply a prefiguration of her own death. Marie began to be afraid. Sara Graham is a writer living in Portland. Artist Marly Stone won First Place in the 1985 Sigma Delta Chi’s regional journalism competition for an illustration in CSQ. She lives in Portland. 16 Clinton St. Quarterly.