of the Heart
by Priya Jay
And when I say longing I mean something like an endless sightless reaching. Which is not to say I couldn’t see, or rather that I had no vision, because even in the dark and fragrant bath of our beginning, I knew there was an out there. In the before-before, when poiesis hung like a storm, when form was only imagined by the thing that desired it, is where I, heart, begin. Let me write it again, because the tele- the yawning distance between all that was and all that could be, was flushed with utter, other, odour, code, kin, whim, hymn, and I grew outwards to meet it.
Long before I was a fist, I was a microscopic eddy in a red stream, chasing myself until I came back only to run away again. Which is to say, the earliest blood was spinning before there was a shadow of a heart. Think of it as the force of a river pushing its meanders into loops, except within the global body of an embryo, where that force looks more like a knot. When matter pushes really hard on time-space, a bottomless hole develops that reflects a spiral. The resulting spiral, of course, moves both downward and upward. And so I wrung.
And the wringing blood was so convinced of the life it was inciting that it called matter over, and sure enough matter came. Pulling in the earliest sinew – can you imagine it, finer than the sheath of a date pit – cordage wrapping itself with itself for itself. Think of a drop spindle and the way a goatherd might tease hair from his flock and feed it into a momentous weaving. So too, I was wound around this quantum excitement that was always old and happening.
As the waters of out there flooded in, I became keener in my weight. In the earliest days I tasted soil and oil and the lingering anger of a boy, through the sturdy umbilical throb. By the time my cord was cut, I had the secrets of whale fossils and instant custard. Whispers in the milk! assemble in my atrium! – they spoke of the acrid mercury in arctic colostrum and the lead that hides in bones, in the same breath as honey on toast. Indelible testimony gathers. It was within these forums that I was passed the ceaseless inventory of the hydrocommons, with all its complicity and sediment, interlocking with an effervescent nervous system. Many works came from water to water and the inpouring of the senses, and many more in invisible gusts from louder hearts in earshot, so I slowed to receive them.
What hath God wrought were the words Morse chose to encode and deliver with the inaugural telegram. And Lo the first to travel the internet. And my first transmission O! a sigh, if only you could put your ear to my tucked jellied spine. And knowing all they know about the moon and its desiccated surface, using clever metal clinking and poking, how dare they call me a pump, as if I’m some mute stoic or breathless machine! Let it be known that I am first a messenger (do you see these sprawling wings at my ankles?), no, a writer, and second a lover (can I touch you underneath?), and a pump never. Call me a clock or a cave or a closet, but be inventive. Reading blood and writing back is my living, translating across waters and ores and their electrical surge, passing feverish notes, glyphs and sonnets with the thirsty will to reach and be reached. Intent on circulation, I find myself holding onto some correspondence, that it might find you in the secrecy of these closed channels.
In all their incisive gleaning, though, they were right about the eyes (you! my eye! my apple!) all along. I climb into them for momentary rapture, to take in the unbound out there in great gulps – thirsty as I am. You’ve felt it, haven’t you, that soft widening is me wanting to lift myself through you, you said it before, (can my eyes become refuge?) Yes, lift your head and loosen your tongue so I can make it up your throat. Sometimes I arrive too late and my glance is lost halfway, like the day we passed hawthorn almost bending for us! and I tugged but not hard enough to pull the whole system sideways, to choreograph legs and then fingers and then mouth to the berries whose juice is kin to my own. I want to make a home there, right in the corners, I want to be full of the world, ready to touch and be touched – but for the inevitable sinking, the penetrating too-muchness. I gasp in the lowest reaches of the lungs, hurt and heavy, and you, your gaze once like silk, hardens a little.
I am in the narrowing iris and she is sat opposite, leaning in telling me about hot stones in Egypt until our knees meet and lean, and I don’t flinch, not once, and it’s like her leg and mine are conjoined briefly. And if not my plasma, then something else is yoked because I am held there in an embrace that is kneeling (who was it that said there are a hundred ways to kneel?) She is speaking and I am running, knocking against my liver (my liver!) and her eyes lower and I want to say something, to move my mouth in a way that would bind the remaining distance, to give another limb over, take all 8. Instead, steady, I thunder inside, knowing I could cast myself wide enough to wrap us both. They call it a field, I think of it like perfume’s sillage or something centripetal, come, I’ll hold you even if I can’t move.
Living in the swelling tides of our contact with vastness, knowing as I do, your most intimate hungers, see me. Turn part of your vision my way and rest it on my tandem spirals. Let my pull draw you towards your innermost, such that you may leap out again to the play of touch and kiss and bite with the vigour of my calling, I want it too.
Priya Jay is a writer and reader based in London. She reaches toward her body as guide, medicine and archive. And she experiments with language as sensory, storied and alive. Care work, grief facilitation, community archiving, experimental publishing, and bodywork lead and feed her work.