19 June 2019, Upon Forgetting
My Towel at The Gym
Ashamed my lack of shame.
Afternoon elderly and one eighteen-year-old with impossible breasts that I wish I hadn't noticed.
Just at the bloom of the age of consent… I'm going to gay feminist hell.
For seeing? No.
I’m NOT staring. I'm fine.
Older women, naked, swinging gravitationally like me. Their towels covering dripping hair, well
hair on head as thighs and pubic and arms and chin tangle freely in the breeze
We spend so much time caring about our own nudity, but
And give no fucks to other bodies.
I wish I had the balls/ovaries/balls to pee in the shower with no curtain.
It keeps things cleaner, removing the false veneer of privacy, feels more sterile
I see strangers’ nakedness daily.
I reciprocate small time chit chat: weather this, sports that.
The weather, eh? It's happening outside.
Going for a swim? Yup. (I'm literally in the pool)
Are yougoing for a swim? Yes. I, too, occupy the selfsame lane.
Now, SHOW ME YOUR TITS!
I mean by accident,
de facto exposure.
I will see your tits, her tits, your tits,
Across the shower with no curtain.
You’ll see mine too. Flump!
My bicep is remembering itself and I'm starting to feel strong. I want massive swimmer thighs. I
imagine crushing a walnut in my butt crack to propel myself forward. I make up for weak thighs
by pushing into my ankle and breaking, breaking, breaking it.
Everything smells slightly of chlorine. Not too strong because that means it's dirty. The
mnemonic stench of summertime is the indication that the chlorine is inactive. The urine-
generated ammonia is no longer chemically reacting to the bleach.
There’s a reason they call it Piscine. Piss won.
13-time gold medal Olympian, Michael Phelps said, that while he himself doesn’t pee in the
pool, every other swimmer in the water does. Stay hydrated!
I think up clever lines while lane swimming and let them flow out my mind. The only time I ever
don't react urgently, fervently, insanely grasping, gasping for a pen and paper, if I'm lucky, the
skin of my arm when I'm not. I’ll use a phone if I've got no other options. I don’t think well with
I met a Hot Priest with a whale tattoo on his arm. Sermonically, he told me it represented
existential tension of a mammal submerged underwater. This was in answer to my question as
to why his arm was the way it was. We spoke into the night at a sticky dive bar and I thought of
seduction the whole time. Jezebel. I wouldn’t Delilah his perfect haircut- short on the
sides, long up top. A delightfully kempt Lumbersexual beard softened with artisanal oils.
Millennial Masculinity. Bisexuality is a fun little past time. I questioned my
loyalty to my own little wifey.
In the water, pushing forward hungover the next afternoon, I thought of Whales.
I think I thought of lactation as the designation of a species, or the wider kind, mammal, and so
I think I thought of whales as a women underwater - Maternal.
I think I thought of whales as mother's because that's what we have in common as a species on
the surface. Beneath their skin, our bones of hands and paddle- same.
An X-ray of my hand and yours (if you’re a whale or a person) shows five finger bones, it's just
the drapery that differs.
I differ from sinews, tendons, muscles, fat.
Fat just under skin.
Fat for infants inhabiting under flesh, in flesh, of flesh. A kidney, liver, placenta organ
A period clotting away.
I remember, one time, in Tel Aviv, emptying a diva cup in a public shower. I don't remember
why. I think I forgot it was wedged up in there. I watched the blood mix with water as it flowed
away down through a communal trough. Psycho style.
Don't worry, I was alone. I prefer to be alone. Not having to navigate human objects: Excuse
me, excuse me. Sorry. Don't apologize. Sorry for being sorry. No, no, it's my fault. No, no, it's
mine. Sorry. Sorry. Don't be sorry. How about the weather, eh?Yes. It's happening outside.
How about the the weather, eh?Yes. It’s happening outside.
My best friend, my Sister-but- not-my-real-sister, Elisabeth, (not too be confused with my real
real sister Elizabeth) taught me how to swim five years ago my middle year of Uni and her first.
She took my flailing arms and gave direction.
Float, float, flail.
She held my body in the water, as my mother did when I was small, and she (mother) took
responsibility to teach me not to drown. Not drowning is not the same as swimming. But I love
everyone as family who
teaches (taught) teaches
me to swim. give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he buys a funny hat (I
saw that on a funny hat at a gas station rest stop in Kentenessee or Ohiowa or Oklazona or one
of the Carolinas or Kansarkas. Texarkana is a real place, and it may have well been there. I
don't get Ontario and Quebec confused, but the Maritimes are a blur. Speaking of Maritimes –
Teach a man to fish, he eats until he succumbs to mercury poisoning.
Teach a man to fish he invents trawling and scrapes the ocean barren like a D&C.
Teach a man to fish, get it right this time, and he eats for as long as he's hungry.
Teach a girl to swim and she doesn't drown. But,
not drowning is not the same as swimming
the same way life is not the same as living. Living unashamed and I'm embarrassed how little I
care about my own cottage cheese thighs. Inspecting other humans’ bodies because I’m free
and not giving a fuck about this animated corpse I’m living in, but it’s only temporary. I’m just
renting until I can afford my own.
Curiously glancing quickly at other bodies in the changing room only because I don't give a fuck
I'm not mad at how I look naked. No one's ever been disappointed when they see it.
Is this body an it to me or a me to me?
Is there a distinctmeto which the body relates?
I've settled on me.
I am my body. This holding space for worm food. I once heard a rabbi call a live chicken
a refrigerator. Keeping flesh fresh for death. Nom
I am a refrigerator for bacteria and worms. If I'm buried in accordance with tradition. I don't like
worms or wormlike things. Snakes, um, mostly just snakes. I'm fine with spaghetti and penises.
Bisexual Carbasaurus, Me.
I just don't want to get too close to my fate. So much in life is uncertain, whereas Death will for
sure come for me. I don’t want to rush it. I’m in
no special hurry
My guts which are not me, will devour the flesh that is me. Maybe. It might not be Me anymore
once I’ve left the building. The biome will crumble, putrefy, transform. I will be guts and earth
again. I won’t be Me, but Will Be Was Me. I will Was AM.
Am “Star Stuff,” Sagan: Sage and Wisdom.
I'd fuck Neil DeGrasse Tyson if I could. I can't focus on astronomy; I get stars in my eyes. This
celestial thing, man, objectify yourself and not the head of the Hayden Planetarium. Look at the
stars. See them shimmer. Look at the stars, eh? Yes. They are happening outside.
Look at the stars, eh? They are happening outside.
Drying my hair with my T-shirt,
toilet paper failed, covered in flecks of paper,
naked, I try to recall shame:
I stepped on my dog, Luci's, paw this morning. He's a boy-dog, called Luci. Short for Lucifer, but
I renounced the devil.
The only thing short about him is his name: Lu. Luci. Lu. He's a tall one, over a meter high, thin
with a face like a pencil and haunches like Olympian Michael Phelps or like a prosciutto dried
out, hanging, swinging swine in a shop window. Fuck I'm hungry from swimming.
Shame. Guilt. Shame - I stepped on Luci's paw when we were horsing - dogging? Nope.
I stepped on his paw and he yelped like betrayal, and like a child limped to me for comfort as I
begged for his forgiveness, cuddling.
Sorry, don't say sorry, he can't understand. I apologize for myself. I'm sorry I hurt you. The Guilt
is for me. Do better. Don't hurt those you love. Those that trust. Those that can't take an
apology of words because you have to doto make it right and it's a pain in the fucking ass to do.
It’s fucking annoying to be better, to make amends truly. I’d rather offer a politician’s apology
and be done with it. A polite stranger’s contrition.
Sorry, sorry. Excuse me. Eh?The weather, it's happening outside.
I'm still so sad I hurt him. His little paw lifted; three legs planted.
Those eyes, dog eyes, brown bulbs, a sight hound's eponymous feature, globes.
Brown globes with flecks of gold and… darker brown.
I'm shit at naming colours. The word "azure" can go fuck itself, because I've got no fucks
left to give it. His eyes are fucking brown, and as a blue-eyed person with
three generations of blue-eyed family, I'm this minority enraptured with the brown-eyed mystery.
I can't see the pupils well as they expand in interest, contract in disgust. Or maybe just react to
the light. Sunset is happening earlier and earlier.
Later and later, it's summer, eh? The weather. It's happening outside.
Outside on the path, walking home, clothed in shame and short shorts. I’ve been growing out
my leg hair as though it’s a decision to let a wild thing grow. I think to where, earlier that
morning, happy Luci egged me to play. Bowing to me, human signal servitude, dog language:
Let's play, human. Let's play because it's safe to play. Let's be silly because I have energy and I want
to spend it with you. Let's play because I like to play with you.
Mischievous innocence, like a child lying to their mother about sneaking broccoli before dinner.
Old Babysitter’s trick - Pretend it's forbidden, and they eat it all up. My nephew saying a naughty
word to see if I'll let him: boobies, poopies, stoopid. No, No, No. We don't use those words.
“TITTAYS. SHIT. RETARDS”.
Fuck! We definitely don't say that.
We say, well, we don't talk about breasts until you're older,
We can call poops “poop,” but please don't call your older brother,
instead of stupid say … fucked up.
No. Don’t Say Fuck, Yet.
We say: I don't care for your arbitrary rules, Auntie. I want to watch Paw Patrol for a seventh
time. I find the narrative structure reassuring. I say, “No.” But who am I to judge?
I've watched the two seasons of Fleabag eleven times in a week. The narrative structure rips
apart my guts and it's the perfect ending because it's not happy, it's healthy. And that's fucked
And fucked up because that's real life and growth.
**SPOILER WARNING**she and the priest. The hot priest. Don't end up together. He chooses
god and service and she chooses, well, herself. And the only love I've even known that
warranted chasing down in an airport is sister. **SPOILER WARNING**
Except I don't love my sister as much as my sister. I mean Elizabeth as much as Elisabeth. I
only trust people I can call suicidal who'll pick up the phone and tell me it's a bad idea without
telling me I'm bad. My sister, Elizabeth, doesn't tell me I'm bad, she just doesn't pick up the
phone. Four kids is an excuse for disinterest. Sisterhood, The baby with the bathwater of an
unhealthy childhood. We had more money when I was smaller, and she already grown and
married off. She resents my mother could take more care of me. I needed more care. Bipolar
gets worse as you age, and my father was ten years older raising me. I needed my mother to
help me not to drown in his wave. Sorry. Sorry, shh… do you hear that? Ah yes,
the four-seat violin quartet. Such a sad little girl. I think there's a cello in there and a bassoon.
There maybe was a base, but it plays such low melancholic tones, human hearing can't register
There's a whale that sings in notes too high or low for other whales to hear. Whales live
centuries or more. If whales kept humans as pets, they'd mourn us like dogs. Poor things, a fifth,
sixth, seventh of our lifetime. They live shorter because they give all their love so fast. Or maybe
it's because of size. In general, big things live longer, except for bred dogs. Mutts, no one
knows. Healthier. Always adopt.
Luci is a purebred adoptee, with papers and a tattoo. I don't think too much about the numbers
on his ear. It was a problem treating people like animals. But Luci is an animal already. It's
appropriate to treat him like a dog. To call his mother a bitch and cut his balls off at the start.
Luci used to run in Florida. He wasn't very good. Only won four games. Out of how many raced,
I don't know. I could look it up, but I don’t really care. They adopted him out early. If he was a
winner, he wouldn’t be a house pet. A neutered house pet. He’d be a balled breeder in
retirement. Luci’s shaped a bit different from the winners. Broad chested and tall.
Winners are either are broad and short, with powerful chests propelling them forward, or tall and
lean, letting long legs lead to a slim swift stride.
Upon seeing him gallop, at the dog park,
A stranger said her labracocapoo (*cough* overpriced mutt *cough*) ran like Luci. It's
physiologically impossible. Anatomically, Greyhounds are odd beasts with an un-canine flexible
spine that allows for a horse's gallop, four feet off the ground at the start and middle of stride.
on the ground, in a puddle of ridiculousness skootching their belly to the sky, tongue lolling out,
teeth unfurled by gravity, lackadaisical non-aggression. Loose lips sink ships. Sunken sailors
Walking home, swinging summer-free girl-children sing/chant the same silly songs and
corresponding hand claps that children teach other children. The ones that are passed down
through school children, but the rules and words effervesce in adolescence and no adult
remembers the game. They ignore me. I try to capture the shade of leafy trees as I walk back
home. The sun, shining and shimmering.
The weather, it’s happening outside.
Mayim Oceans is Toronto-based writer, and artist. She is currently procrastinating on her master’s in philosophy by working on a novel about her experience in Israel during the 2014 Gaza War. She is a regular reader at various poetry readings and values the community and that art fosters.