Hurting

This is how you hurt me.

You take my hand. You straighten the fingers. I can’t see you: I’m on my knees with my forehead on the floor, my hands bound behind me. It takes a moment to understand what you want; to surrender these tiny muscles so that you can move them. I breathe, relax my palms, let you shape my body as you want it.

To write about someone, to be written about, is a special kind of intimacy. You asked for, demanded, a story.

The next day we didn’t touch, but this intimacy was happening—mediated by pen on paper, by imagination (mine), by language itself. Bunnies fuck, but only people talk about fucking, transmute it into meaning.

That magic is what makes us gods, isn’t it?

We are generating heat. From the small taut tendons of your arm, through the cane, to my palm: heat. From my hand back into yours: heat.

You hit my open palm with a heavy stick, one you found on the beach on our morning walk. I have never been hit there before, and it hurts. It’s not a sexy pain, not an erotic zone of my body. It sears.

You must sense the crests of sensation: how? Am I moaning, am I crying out? In between you hold my hand—sympathizing with the pain you’ve caused, and glorying in it, too.

In these pauses, your hand is smooth and cool, like mercy.

Now, remembering, that same heat rises through my body. My face flushes. If you’re reading this, halfway around the world, do you feel it, too?  This transaction is not just molecules. It’s an intimacy like no other. It means.

As a writer I am also a theoretician, but not your kind, cool and abstract, nearly scientific. I don’t have to do experiments, test my hypotheses on rats, engage in longitudinal studies of semiotics.  I just know, and then I have to trust what I know: what my body knows. What your body might know too, if you let it.  Every day I try to make this transmutation: matter into energy, dross to gold.

What the world sees as base, as sordid—the desire of one to hurt and the other to be hurt—we convert into a kind of transcendence, a space where spirits touch. It’s a space where we know… not each other, exactly, but know ourselves to be part of one energy, one field.

Krishna says, I am the field and the knower of the field.

Beyond religion: Hegel too believed that, in the relationship of master to slave, spiritual unity was possible.

It scares you, doesn’t it, this moment of synthesis?

When I write I walk toward this fear every day. With each blank page I face the terror of not being enough, of being too much, of being consumed, of remaining unknown. The world tells us we are wrong a thousand different ways every day. So of course we are afraid.

You tell me I am brave, and I realize it’s true. Fear has been my teacher, the one who wears the mask of god.

You make me talk. I tell you how brilliant you are and how scared I am, but you say I must be lying on both counts. You accuse me of flattery.

It occurs to me how young you are, how little you know your own beauty and genius, your power. I, irrepressibly rebellious—I who more than once have screamed no-no-no at a woman with a whip, to make her tame me—want nothing more than to be on my knees for you.

You hit me again, again.

From you I took more pain than I’ve ever taken before. I didn’t tell you that afterward; it was a little prize I withheld, the way you withheld something from me. Is pettiness is the opposite of intimacy?

Story is what we make to survive the pain. Again I don’t mean you and me, I mean our species. I don’t know how bunnies survive their suffering, but you and I and all our kind make narrative.

You didn’t want the intimacy to seep, like a wound, out of the scene. But your instruction, to write you a story, kept me in that space of intimacy while you distanced yourself from it; from me. I didn’t see the trap. I didn’t know I was meant to emote for both of us.

So maybe I was clenching my hands and you had to keep opening them, had to move my fingers out of the way, so as not to break my joints when you hit me. The story I made was that you held my hand through the pain, that you soothed the fire of my hurting.

Later I could have spun this into a big tale of love or the possibility of love. Later you could pretend this gesture was all logistics. Which is a lie, which a fantasy?

We are human; is it possible to avoid drifting, in every direction, from the truth?

After the pain, the reward.

I am choking on your cock and my throat resists, I gag but I don’t want to stop, and you let me keep going and you wipe the tears from my eyes and I feel beautiful.

I thought you’d understood my offering. What does a gift want more than to be given? What can a god want more than a willing sacrifice?

Next time I negotiate, this is what I will say: Touch me, fuck me, hurt me—but don’t you dare back away.

The poet Hafiz said, Art is the conversation between lovers. That impulse toward intimacy, six centuries ago, let him live into our time and beyond.

So whatever our separate stories, I know what I felt. It wasn’t nothing, and it wasn’t just a little something. For that moment—that present moment which, in its intensity, is eternal—it was everything.

This is how you hurt me.

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