What a Body Knows
by Steve Tomasula

The voluptuous women of Rubens.

The damned, entombed in his own skin.

A critics statement laminated to the wall.

The curve of a feminine thigh in black.

Cindy Sherman's photos of vomit.

Seventy-five hundred generations of sapiens, then a day trip to the museum and another fight. Petticoats, frothy mannerism and rosy skies. Nonetheless, all the way home, Square tried to convince Circle that he'd only been looking at the art, not the artist in spandex, an arrangement of arcs having caught both their eyes.

Such fragile clay. Despite bold strokes. Trying to get at what?

Nature all—but what was that?

            Realism             Impressionism

                            Cubism                             Minimalism

                            Now what?—

"I couldn't help—"

"Words. Fuck your words!"

"—but notice." Shapes and colors do that, as the shock of any EXIT sign can attest. Bathers in a secret pond. A doe-eyed maiden's innocence.

Construct a line and the mind reacts. And the artist continued helping him to understand: the eye follows naturally curvilinear form, unawares, despite intent. Loungers in a Turkish harem, the curve of fabric continued by curvilinear hip.

He didn't make the world.

Please don't touch.

Marble arms.

Each in their thoughts,


                                                            slowly circulating from room to room, searching for a mirror not this pigment going to compost too fast. Medievals believed God shaped breasts like pears to fit the hand. Greek cups and Romans urns. The sensual visions of pagans past. The Venus of ________________ (fill in the blank). Each style a willingness to try again.

Back in the car, they completed their trip under glass, micro weather mechanically controlled. The cave paintings of Lascaux. It was only by degrees, that they returned.

A light dinner. The body must endure, no matter what.

"Did you like Cupid, Folly and Time?"


At least that was a start. A gentle slope to, what the hell, "I'm sorry—I didn't mean to, it was only words."

Saint Lucy holding out a platter bearing her eyes.

"Yes, words," both remembering, if not remarking, a young aristocrat's haughty, porcelain skin. Thank God, that's all past, and Circle put her hand in his (an ancient cliché), the scent of her hair close (still pressing the right buttons). Stirrings within, beginning again—What?

                                                                                                                        Pistil and stamen?

                                A fashion?

Albrecht Altdorfer never wondered, painting Lot screwing his daughter. Fucking was dark back in 1510, what equate animal and man—Pan copulating with goats and anything else he could catch—and so always man was shown mounting the woman from behind (making the beast with two backs, as Shakespeare had it), often upright: a thousand years of authors and painters and clergymen and just plain folks who were sure it was satyrs and gardens and oysters and horny—


                                                                                                                         beauty as biological as beholder's eye?

—nature—bestial—and could imagine it no other way (though they themselves never fucked "doggie style"—how our language dates us!). But today, where the main sexual organ was the brain and making love as polysemous as—?….

Roses are Red

      Violets are—

Who's on top?….

Unless forgiveness could be found, after all, in four little letters—A-G-C-T's of amino acids?—bodies making what counterfeits never could, the pre-larynx—

"Come," imprinted on a single partner (cementing the pair bond). A softening in Circle's eyes, call it dilation, indicating that she was receptive. Hearts and flowers. And, 186,000 years of conditioning; the Pavlovian dog within secretes—

Words? More words?

                                         Can any mirror be less opaque than paint?

—catecholamines. Estradiol binds to estrogen receptors. Moonlit Serenade. Likewise, testosterone washes cellular organization of the male variety, hypothalamus, vaso-dilation following strictly the double-helix law, hearts also anticipating exertion—precipitating vaso congestion of spongy tissue—beating within the law of the letter, the alpha and omega of cells propagating themselves—motive without mind—his bilateral symmetry having suggested to her, unawares, a high probability of average gametes, average, so says Darwin, being more desirable than Valentines for its lack of irregularities, likewise, her clear complexion, 0.7 hip-to-waist ratio and sound teeth—a biology of selection often figured by these apes, naked, "love"?