Hold on, let me take the safety off
There’s this feeling. Like falling in love. I'm thinking about the pressure, sitting in a therapist's chair, the band across my back. Holding my arms against something that matches my temperature, flexibility bracing for impact. I’m thinking about what it means to become this thing that I am. I don’t want my will, my identity to be affected. The same feeling in the machine that pushes against the ribs is what I desire to stop me from feeling like I might fly away.
Often, I want to be tethered, two feet placed firmly on the ground. Gently. The jackets do that for me. The straps do that for me. Pulling my shoulder blades back. Head up. Don't look at the ground, Tiona. Head up. Look people in their eyes. Find your way toward words. Resist the silence. Embrace the silence. Think about the gesture. Fight the repetition. Embrace the repetition. Think about the sacrifice.
I count the lines on every woman I have tied. I count lines every time I enter a room. I think about the ribs once the harness is released. Once the rope is reversed. I think about being exploded from the inside. A machine hugging me with its dishonesty. Walking away with no cuts, no scrapes, but deeply bruised. You know bruises can often take days to come up? Remindful errors of impact. In ceremony we caress our necks, backs turned away in all white when the rooster’s neck is cut. I've kept it to myself.
These men and women have touched me without touching me. Hands on my boots. Sit up high. Let me take care of your feet. Let me take care of your boots. Let me take care of you. The only time I can focus. I pay attention to the shiftiness of the feet. The Shine against stasis. the polish, the smell. The finer, the lesser the density. White shirts create the composition. Left, right, up, down. The curl.
Bootblacks, eyes watering, black tongues, on their knees, the movement.
"Someone put something in your shoe," he said. "I'm going to pull it out." 45 minutes. Never looked me in my eye once.
A psychological landscape, a topology of trauma: the phone call, the screaming, So what are you going to do, you're going to shoot me? The care, the suspension of disbelief, the thing that's supposed to make you think that you are here and only here and nothing else matters. Every time I put on the jacket, for a small moment I'm where I need to be. I'm who I need to be. It's like when you wake up before you are who you are or before you're reminded who you are, you yourself.
The obsidian mirror, one of the first mirrors. They shined stone to reflect a profile. Detail is not important here but shape, movement. The reflection of light is imperative.
This work comes after The Brad Johnson Tape – X- On Subjugation, 2017. The suspension. This kind of upside down-ness, being trapped. This device is the only thing that requires that someone puts you in and gets you out. For me, this is about affection. The severity of it all.
I mean, I feel like I've gotten blank stares all my life….
I tell a story about the flying frogs at night. I describe the clothing. When I am diagnosed, the therapist tells me, This is not who you are all the time. It’s very cold. I take three buses. I say, It’s ok, I’ve been the most honest when I’ve been this way all the time. It's your mind, he says. Adults with autism spectrum disorder can have great success. I’m not interested in this exception. He talks and I am thinking of my nephew and his eyes. How calm and deep. I knew then. I know now. I count the mats in the room, all a lovely blue.
Do you know how we get these things? Brutal accountability. The feeling you have when you put your jacket on––that's the feeling the cow has before its throat is slit. The same exact feeling. The thing you look for. The way your leathers fit. Look at it. Do not forget this. No one can sit in that chair after me. I needed to absorb this. Everything has stopped.
It is extremely exhausting. I refuse to edit myself, to revise for legibility. I prefer the poetic. This is my mind in its best form. Don’t fill in the gaps for me. It is complete.
For my loves, D+D/T+T. Come find me when you need me. One day you will understand.