Put me on the edge of annihilation, and I will love you forever. I will supplicate myself before you, dear world, for a taste of it. It does not matter what kind of death: of the body or of the ego. One is not more painful than the other: I am a connoisseur of the ill-advised. I may as well have been raised by wolves and broken glass. This is how I move through the world, cloaked only in illusion and muscle memory. The time I was not eaten by a trash-grubbing bear in the middle of the night, banging my silly pot in the middle of the woods, mostly naked. Because he had filled up on garbage, there was no room for me. The winter days I do not crash into the woods: carving my skis against the hill, edging the snow and narrowly dodging head trauma. I sail on my own breath and a belief in my body. One summer, my sister’s horse galloped alongside mine, and we flew across Wyoming. Arms out, hips rooted; if the horse hit a gopher hole, I was done-for. When the cops in tactical gear do not beat me into the pavement, but my cheeks are a swamp from tear gas and adrenaline. Leaping off a cliff —again, mostly naked—into a Canadian lake where no one would have found my body. I missed its jagged bits by a few inches, which is to say: enough. The times my child holds my hand without warning and his sweaty paw slips into mine, he smiles up at me with a face like the sky. I am eviscerated: reduced to smoldering ash where I stand. In the brilliance of his luminescence, I cease to exist. I try to forget that the act of ushering him into life nearly ended us both: this is what it is to be alive. Allow me to meet all the bears face to face in the darkness. Permit me one more cliff before I go.
Christy Tending (she/they) is an activist, writer, and mama living in Oakland, California. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Catapult, trampset, The Citron Review, and Barren Magazine, among many others. You can learn more about her work at www.christytending.com or follow her on Twitter @christytending.