A Brief History of Touch

How we know our bodies comes from the way we are handled, from the way your parents held you to the press of sexual partners. We become ourselves through the experience of skin against other skin.



RECENTLY PUBLISHED


My Mother’s Name

When my mother said my name, not one of the three syllables was diluted or mangled, assimilated or Americanized.


image of double exposure photograph

An Index of Small Stings

My fingers stop moving over the keyboard. I command myself to react, to interrupt, to at least make light of his comments in an offhand way, but I am shaking. I pull out my notebook, write his words down, and pretend this attempt at record-keeping equals doing something.


Photograph of a billboard advertising skin lightening cream.

Dark Skin, Whitening Masks

This summer, I let myself burn. Three decades of my life spent consciously, unconsciously hiding from the sun, spent hearing the voices of my mother my grandmother my aunts in my head, three decades of this and I’m tired. I let myself burn.


A canal and row houses in Amsterdam

The Ones Who Left

But they (we) also arrived in Maryland, a slave-holding state, and while Ruth Hedeman’s genealogical research is silent on the subject of what Henry Hedeman’s family got up to in the years leading up to the Civil War, I think I would have heard if they were abolitionists.


A photography of the border between a field of corn, on the left, and a field of wheat stubble, on the right

Bicycles in the Corn

I envisioned someone hirsute and nameless undressing then putting his sock hat on me. I envisioned this in more detail than I would allow myself in my usual fantasies because it had such little chance of happening, because I had walked my bicycle into the corn too early. With my third eye atrophying, I had searched its stalks for the holiness of virgins rather than gazing out toward the men with their car door wide open.