I enter the Black Hole in a state of distress. There is a dam in my body, mental and physical. Despite this, or more, because of this, I lead myself into the Black Hole, like a timid horse. I sneak behind a speaker and approach the center of sound from the side, not from the back as has been my ritual. No, I bend my ritual to reassure my body. I slowly slice into the empty dance floor and feel resistance, like sponge cake and icing on a knife. I can not reach the center. I accept this and hover at the speaker. Speaker-West, the DJ my North, and there is also the direction to the earth and to the sky, as the Aztecs know and as my mother knows, six directions. I close my eyes and begin to move right hip outward, the beginning of a figure eight, my pelvis ready to trace two circles. Then I recognize instantly what has been fortifying this dam, this block within me. It is this first movement, this habit, always from the right. It is learned, and now it feels safe, comfortable, correct. With my hand, with my foot, always the right moves first. What does it matter? I don’t know. But I know I want to flay myself, cut out my stomach to remove a sickening anxiety. I am alone in a body full of learned movement, suffocating my desires. A body saturated with shame.
The backyard, the front yard, the shallow grove of pines on the uphill slope of Old Smoke Road. A whole universe for exploring, for touching and smelling and tasting. We also had a round pool which did not sit in the earth, but was like a plateau you had to climb up, to sink into. The deck was covered in a rough plastic rug, like turf on a mini-golf course. But brown. Like sand. I scratched and scrubbed my toes and heels on it. And my thighs and bum. Child me would sit with toes in the water, pulling them out slowly, testing the round sea, the whirlpool in waiting.
My mother would slip into the water first, without a splash, with barely a ripple, her skin a pink-brown-serpent. And she wore purple hued bathing suits, her torso a chameleon against the blue-plastic-pool-lining. Nikki and I were mesmerized as we waited on the deck, waited as she dipped below the surface, hair floating and then forming to her skull as she rose from the water and finally moved toward us. And we moved toward her, to climb onto her knee as she hovered below the waterline, just serpent neck and head floating above muscle, constricted in an offering. Nikki-Ali-Ali-Nikki my mother would call us, one child complete through both our bodies. And on her knees we stood, the water up to our waists. Then we too sank down, onto my mother’s leg-seats, to become a circle of bodies, a circle holding on and holding each other.
My mother would begin to bounce slowly, methodically. Up and down. The water would pull at my toes. I could feel it suck through the spaces between us, underwater streams forming. And low waves radiated outward, from us, the center. And from this center my mother hinged in a new direction. A diagonal direction. A figure eight was drawn, infinity, its intersection the space between our three bodies. The underwater currents grew in strength and complexity. Streams were flowing away and toward me and I clapped with water which swirled off Nikki and my mother, to then caress me and slither away. The hair on my legs swayed like sea grass and I watched as the surface of the pink-brown-skin rippled and tremorred with contentment. And I watched as Nikki’s long, cinnamon hair eddied, pursuing our bodies, desiring to envelope joy.
Joy is joy, pain is pain, we get to choose.
I rotate my head on its neck, drawing half circles with my nose. This at least feels pleasant. A beginning, a foundation, and I remember my breath. I breath into my belly and push it out fat, inviting my breath down into tight hips. A stretch, an opening. I can do this. I want to do this. I choose to unwind. I breath and feel my heartbeat and I choose to feel my North’s beat booming into me from my West. I feel and I focus and submerge in the sound which is pummelling me. I choose. I move away from the learned and I move toward desire. Or instinct? I pivot around the axis of my spine, bent arms holding wrists which hold hands which hang effortlessly, fingers dangling like snowbell blooms from their stem. I choose to release. I shift my weight to the right, and lift my left foot, freeing it from gravity, and my left foot floats in a semicircle to my West and falls to receive the weight of my everything. My right foot, free now, follows like a whip, and then hip and torso and shoulder are all whipped as well, and we, my whole body and somewhere deep within, my mind, swing to the left so ecstatically that the momentum’s own desire whirlpools us into a counterclockwise trance.
Effort washes up on the shore and I float down my own stream, dancing, pivoting to the left left left, in counterclockwise circles, for hours. We are cutting through a desert of habit. And in this trace-time-and-action I recognize Nikki is floating with me, in my body’s eddy. Explorers again, in the absence of fear, we flow toward a delta and finally through the marshes behind her house on Old Smoke Road and the marshes of Berlin. Two children, our serpent bodies pursuing play and magic all the same.