Part one: In-Tur-sti-seas
Our eyes met in the space between —
A serendipitous laceration.
I flowed toward
You counter turned
Pulled me along between glittering pieces of people
As you closed the space between us you grasped my hand
I said “Hello.” And said “My name is Linda; I make objects.”
Final call and we walked within a stream of costumed queers spilling into the streets
And you reached for my hand again
And into an intervening space.
I’ve read that word a hundred times. Typed or scrawled my eyes have scrolled always trusted surrounding bodies of text to define it. Interstice. Shortly after I met you that word is said out loud in some discussion and I face such a sharper taste: In-Tur-Sti-Sees. The emphasis is on “tur” from the Latin root terra, or earth. Inter. In Earth.
It’s not really an uncommon occurrence for me; more the byproduct of reading more than speaking. It’s not even significant, but rather a difference of dialect or preference, but still—
Still, my mouth reshapes and forms something I thought I knew.
Something I did know, but by another name.
A noun; an intervening space.
That word, like you, shimmers: it catches my mouth and my eye.
I remember a time with my limbs all wrapped up in yours
I remember turning into folds of down as an early moonbeam bounced off your perfect cheekbone: the graceful dive of your defined jaw, elegant angle.
I remember your body, shed of layers, shed of years, being vulnerable—light
As if such a luminous infiltration could lift that deep crease from between your brow.
Do you remember? I plucked a word akin to shifting light and oil slick shine and I gave it to you—
I gave you the word:
Light play obscures your gender and your age: it makes you appear to be many things at once and this syncs to my love of duality, my love for the way that some bodies and some language just flow—flow between boundaries and flow between binaries. It gives me hope for flow—hope that our edges so strictly guarded can open.
I want to peel skin, to puncture—
Not to leave an open wound but to open pulsing pathways.
I’ve spent months talking pathways, years really, but months exploring their abstraction in vibrant splashes. Pools of paint lure me; they become love poems about our bodies, about the space between our bodies. This Innerstice: Interstitial fluid is the solution that bathes and surrounds cells. On average a person has 11 liters of interstitial fluid, which is about 3 gallons, or 24 pounds. This fluid is composed of water, nutrients and waste. It is a system of transportation and exchange.
I’ve immersed myself in a text. The one you took as a lover before we’d met. It’s as if in your absence I can feel you through someone else’s words.
I remember the times I’d pull back the covers of your bed to find this book sleeping, sleeping where I slept, and I felt this white hot longing to be text—
Once you read to me from this book, and when my eyes weren’t closed blissfully riding her words strapped onto your voice—
I stared transfixed by one of my paintings about bodies—
It’s fluid strokes, it’s explosive blues illustrate your text
in my mind
Foreign figures rising, breathing life as your voice sends waves through my hair.
I rise and fall with your breath.
I remember another time, flooded in morning light, book out of sight, when you made me repeat the same sentence, the same word just to watch, entranced by the way my mouth moved.
I’m infatuated. (obviously.)
Infatuated by the pull and power, the pleasure of it of paint
I’m infatuated by the nacreous shifting of light over your skin
One of my mentors, a painter, told me how to spot a good painting is that it will draw you from across a crowded room with it’s color or texture, and once you’re there, two feet away and introducing yourselves, it’s the twisting details, the rough edges, and the problems that pull you past the surface,
Where we seep and steep
push at the seams,
expand, a flush, the elusive tranquility of each interstice that exists.
I studied this word while I studied you, because I thought that I could learn a lot from the game. It was almost accidental—a point when our bodies brushed and like pools of paint our edges ache with the weight of water. These strings and streams between us cling to cuts and when we connect I swim in your body leaving marks, and taking traces of your colors and smells…
The places and parts where we were words…
I Swallow a word
Part Two: Purged Words 2012-13
- The Sky and the Sea
Bloated, I floated
& Ship-wrecked in your immensity.
The skin of the sky breathes
Gently it strokes the skin of the sea
I balance at the seam
Like the edge where jeans and briefs meet the soft skin of her belly,
And I am lulled in my exhaustion
And the only ground is the pit of my stomach but even that is miles below.
I dug into the earth with a vengeance
To mine something of value
In retribution, it spit me back up and away,
Off into the sea to drink it up and sway
Dance their magic,
But blink out of vision
Just as my eyes focus,
Their air runs out
And I cough from submergion.
Sputtering, I curse my memory
Because it cannot draw the lines.
Her edges are endless,
as I reach for them
and at this violation she recedes
When I look to the sky I plummet
I see her endless immensity fabricated
The night blankets, Deep and indigo endless.
Freckled with twinkling lights—
the places where her edge is softly sewn to others
The lines between form constellations.
When I was in it I watched
Star-lit scorch mark
Perpetual motion machine
Stars sang fortunes
Most mystical of all,
Portals and pathways to different stories.
The sensation of passing through,
Passing through someone’s skin and inhabiting it
if only briefly.
so much larger than yourself,
flicker between worlds
For that I cannot forgive you,
your consistant electric pulse.
me the fool prancing dumbly,
all for the fleeting pleasure to hold light in my hands.
spinning tricks and hinting bright little jewels.
I was spinning
- Subcutaneous: pertaining to the fatty layer under the skin
Strings (Peripheral Nervous System)
Around, outer, webs, nerves, channels, connections, charges, elegant electricity, dance of sparks that light into the skin, the tantalizing thrill of my hand, hot heart, swim on the surface: wild waters.
I grasp hairs of threads
The chains that link me to each of you
Try as I trance,
Too much electricity making them dance around in my hands
I braid together the pieces I have, because what else is one to do when they have nothing but fragments?
Isn’t this always the work of women.
We piece together things that have fallen apart.
Would that I could vacate,
Viscerally viscous goo that I am
For a moment
Just a fragment
To turn broken words, our gestures into the kind of prose that could elevate my embarassement.
My eyes are set like a camera on macro and stuck. It’s too delicate an aperatus to force it so I squint and sway. I grow dizzy. My skin sizzles. My retinae burn. My hands singed from where they touched you.
I had shed a thick layer and lost all that protected me.
Tinged brand new baby skin
A refracted spectrum
Shards that catch your smiling light
And hot spots on cellophane
Ruining the picture
A hazardous beauty
Linda Benjamin is an interdisciplinary artist who works and lives out of Chicago. She received a BFA from Columbia College in 2012; in both text and visual art, she works to engage themes where oppositions meet, blend, and move between to share an edge and a story that subverts categorization. Influences of this desire to heighten ambiguities, and to blend, rise from contradictions between gender, sexuality, biology, class and art. Currently Linda is working on a hybrid graphic novella that will juxtapose creative nonfiction prose into images and when not grinding away between jobs and art, Linda likes to do yoga, spend time with her cat, and drink fancy cocktails on patios.