Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

Repetitive Motion

My body knows what to do, even if my eyes do not. Down and in, just like this morning. "All that trimming is making me stronger," I tell you, deciding which lights to turn on and which ones to leave off. I love it when the branches finally snap, descending on my head and arms like angry insects. I've even grown fond of the special itch that follows. I watch my chest muscles tense in the mirror, delighted to have the distraction. It keeps me from seeing what I'd rather not. "There's a reason birds don't build nests in mesquite trees," I say, to anyone who will listen. I keep on pushing. Everything narrows. The sidewalk turns green.

* * *

I look in the mirror because I want to look in the mirror. You are looking too, this time. For years you pretended not to. Once, at a party, you pulled me into the middle room of the hosts' narrow, high-ceilinged apartment, the one with a bed in it and not much else and said, "Look, they have a mirror in the same place we have a mirror." And then I realized that you might be stealing a glance here and there. Now it's all out in the open. You look. I look. And we see ourselves looking. "I need to stop eating so much toast before bed," you tell me later, like you do almost every night. "Or my ass is never going to get any smaller."

* * *

"Look," I say, "I'm doing the trimming." Andrew Marvell had his mower. Why shouldn't I have a lopper? Snap. I'm making pictures of what I want to see: blue-gray roses bunched together, rolls of red nearly falling off the bed, the way your hair flops when you turn your head to the left. Snap. The heat is oppressive because it is coming from inside us. Snap. I keep on going because it looks like the right thing to do. Snap. Someone is going to have to sweep this mess off the sidewalk.

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