Words Without Bodies

Doug Rice



Personal aesthetic statement

Sometimes a sentence becomes something other than a confinement. Sometimes a sentence becomes a flood of utterances and desires, (an)other way for seeing into the wor(l)d. Words without echoes that become photographs from the womb. A lost origin that came before a beginning that disappeared at the moment of telling. (I cannot help imagining what a mirror might see when I am not looking.) One day, a reflection caught me by surprise after the words had disappeared from a sentence I had written. I wondered. Traveled. Nomadic. For me, I enjoy writing sentences that once belonged to someone else as much as I enjoy wearing the scent of my lover. There is no relationship between these photographs and words; there are no liminal spaces between, no apriori of desire. Or memory. There is only this. Here. A photograph written after I had forgotten enough to begin to see. A sentence photographed in the movement of stillness. I am so afraid of forgetting that I photograph sentences.


A mirror is only a moment in time and sees nothing. A mirror is as blind as is a word tortured by fascists.





I have seen girls disappear inside mirrors but have never recognized myself. I have known girls who have fallen down rabbit holes and girls who have been awakened by leaves falling on them. I was an infant at the time of these dreams. Speechless. My mother abandoned me. Not everything was a metaphor. Not every body has been claimed by a pronoun. Grammar always fails desire. The parish priest told my mother that I suffered from an unbearable knowledge of being exactly where I was supposed to be.




Writing desire is not desire. And this pipe, that pipe, is not, was not, a pipe. Beginning with beginning. Gaby said, "You are a girl in this." We were crossing the Middle Fork of the American River. Her body set free by the river pebbles. I had never seen a woman so free. The salt of her flesh on my lips.  I desire to you. Gifting our bodies each to each. What was to have remained invisible spoke together. Two lips seeking words. Rubbing words. Hand to mouth. Born this woman I was.



Writing does not make truth appear.




"It's because you are remembering it all wrong. It's because memory blocks the flesh from coming into being." Gaby reached her hand across the years that separated us. "You don't need words."


I imagined that I saw the words, the ones that came before, imagined I saw sentences without pronouns. To live there. The words I needed had nearly disappeared into the river. The river changes words into time and marks rocks with the slow movement of the current. There I am a girl in the river unseen but for Gaby. We climb over rocks. The white water pulls our bodies away from the static gaze of language where I/You are merely the other of the same. Still, the words I need have abandoned me, fled high into the foothills.




Rivers never flood. They simply remember their way home. They are pulled toward home and flow over their banks. We should celebrate such desire, such longing.




In the first person, I have always been at a loss for words. The first person returns me to amnesia. In the third person, I have forgotten enough of the present not to fear remembering. The following was in the third person. What came in the time before is forever in the third person. What comes later was in the third person. What is present is in this third person without losing sight of this I that utters.


Pronouns can only understand false borders, biological blunders. Pronouns should be more tentative. Whole lives are lost in the ruptures a pronoun invokes. Fuck God. Fuck biology. Fuck Freud. Clothes confuse pronouns. Sex destroys pronouns. My body, this body beneath these clothes is a schizophrenic hurricane that frightens pronouns. Once while sitting out back among the rock croppings in Cool, California, looking down on the Lotus Valley Gaby said, "Your body is an ecstatic delusion disappearing near reflections."






I almost forgot.

But my body refused.




In the end a boy, this boy, I can only be a girl if there is no desire to be seen. A disappearance into becoming present. Language falls away as the body enters. 



Doug Rice is the author of Skin Prayer: Fragments of Abject Memory, Blood of Mugwump: A Tiresian Tale of Incest, and A Good Cuntboy is Hard to Find. He is the publisher of Nobodaddies Press and teaches literary and film theory and creative writing at Sacramento State University. He is currently working on a mixed media project exploring rivers, bodies, and sentences