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A Series of Gestures

The argument was that they couldn't agree upon a way of seeing, which is to say that one
was, according to a certain way of looking, always the other’s shadow. One watched a video
of a young woman flailing about in a pool of quicksand wearing nothing but a sundress, while
the other contemplated the nature of control. Did pleasure predicate itself, or was it built upon
a complex pattern of wants? For one, the hum of the drying machine caused the most perfect
stirring, while the other found joy in the panes of a cold window.

How could one escape the other without becoming something different entirely? The other
perched on the end of a mattress, toes pressed firm upon the edge. They took turns, of course,
being the other, tying a knot, keeping themselves from view. This process was delicate—the
tongue might have slipped, a glass might have shattered in a clenched hand. This was no more
fragile than being in the first place, which one saw as a state that constantly threatened to
collapse upon itself, but the other felt as a gloved hand, pressed firmly on the back of the neck.

Eric Stiefel is a recent graduate of the MFA program at Washington University in St. Louis, where he is currently junior fellow in poetry.  His work has previously appeared in A Clean, Well Lighted Place, West 10th, The Adroit Journal, and Menage and is forthcoming in The Esthetic Apostle.