I performed this at last week’s Bedpost Confessions. I had some requests to share it, so here it is. It was originally a work at The Good Men Project but I have refined it over the months and turned it into a bit of a spoken word piece. I thank everyone who has supported me while creating and performing this piece and am honored at the response.
My ankles hurt each morning when I rise out of bed. I’ve found tricks to help ease those aches, stretching my calves and rolling my feet prior to placing them on my cold wooden floor. Still, the first few steps of the day indicate strain. Perhaps the beginnings of arthritis from years of overuse. I read my dancing life in my ankles, piano in my wrists, my oboe in my embouchure.
The body shows age in lines and scars, in aches and fatigue. The stories of our years on this planet are written on and in our bodies. We may try to postpone aging, through surgeries, exfoliation, or love affairs, but the words are permanent.
I admit that aging frightens me. At 43 I still feel vital. Alive. I’m aware though, that aging and being considered sexy don’t always go hand in hand. Especially when one is a mother. We are too complicated at best. Too much baggage. Invisible at worst. Outside of ‘cougars’ and ‘milfs’ the naturally aging woman might not be seen in a truly carnal light.
I’ll share a quote with you from an online magazine:
“A guy I know, a wonderful husband, recently confided in me that he loves female breasts. His wife is quite beautiful, but mothering has “ruined her tits,” he told me. He made clear to me that he intended to continue his interest in the female form in what he considered the least damaging way he could figure out—porn and strip clubs—so as to prevent a melt-down in his marriage. “My wife would freak out if she knew,” he said, “but I don’t want to end up doing something stupid like having an affair with some teenager.”
This quote hit me. Hard. The word, ruined rang in my ears for days.
Such reactions it provoked in many who read it. Was it really that honest lust, out in the open, is that threatening? Or was it the totality of the statement, the particular callousness of it, that desire is predicated on perkiness?
As a woman who is in favor of conversations about lust. I think my reactions were due to that casual cruelty. Can I see the difference between my body and one of a 22 year old nubile girl? Well, of course. Can I accept that when lustful eyes cross her body they’ll experience something different than when they see mine? Yes, I can. Nothing wrong with having that out in the open.
My reaction is not, “Don’t lust.” I’m a fan of lust. It’s, “Be kind to me and my aging body while you lust for others, and I will be kind to you and yours, as my own eyes pause on younger flesh. And older flesh for that matter. Older flesh gets ignored in all this. Because its?
Ruined. Ruins. The ringing continued.
Her breasts were ruined from motherhood. Are mine? Or are they just written upon by life. By the stories of being young, of aging, of producing children. I can look at my body and read those histories.
On my own breasts, I imagine poems of tears waiting for them to grow, of furtive teenage petting, of the first touch a hand, my heart pounding visibly under a shirt, him unloosing a bra, and the touch of his warm, slightly sweaty, clumsy fingers on my breasts. Fear that my baby A’s were too small to touch.
Here are words of a soft insistent flick of the tongue and playful twists turning serious as growling teeth capture a nipple while I swoon at the attentions of a intuitive lover who understands how I like it.
This mark, here a poem of shock at the a size C during pregnancy! The capacity for milk production, of a glorious spray of nutrients. In one breast preferred over the other, the larger one, over the heart. Also the sensitive one, coincidentally.
A collection here of a baby’s unskilled latch, ferocious mouth on my flesh, giggling as milk spills from his lips, himself milk drunk in a perfect guileless sensuality of the purest bodily erotics-Here is satiety and pleasure and safety. Here.
Here in this more flattened curve a story of empty sadness when that time of nursing was over. And then a piercing, sharp and shocking through a darker and far less perky nipple with a lover and husband holding my hands, as if to finally mark the ending of that chapter.
These breasts are not ruined.
There are more stories to be written, both on my breasts and other interesting places.
My husband’s body too, is covered in heartbreak, stoicism, sweetness, longing, His sticky candy tastes and dark scents are stories whose secrets aren’t for sharing here, but I daily read the poems on his skin. He reads mine.
A lover’s body is the ultimate adventure in erotic literature. So much to read so many places to write. This spot makes you gasp, you want more. That spot makes you moan, it’s too much. This thrust calls out a scream, feels like a lightning bolt of heaven. This place, with a finger drawn round and round in concentric circles, and a hand stroking upward, makes you come.
From red handprints on skin, to leaving an invisible but indelible mark feeling on flesh, we are now roadmaps of the erotic. Knowing you without words, wordlessly, beyond words, past words, in pleasure’s control, is truly seeing into you, seeing who you are. Letting you see me.
I still come back to the word Ruined.
What about the sensuality of kindness? Where did that callousness in that original statement come from? Words mean things. What we say out loud is how we see the world. Are all of us worried that we are ruined or will be as we age? Worried we’ll be irrelevant, impotent, disregarded for sagging breasts, thinning skin, or growing guts?
The pubic hair grays, you know. Scrotums drop. Vaginas that were once flowing natural springs are overtaken by a hormonal desert requiring lubricious supplementation. Penises that formerly stiffened eagerly in seconds, now take a longer time, sometimes needing scientific enhancements to coax upwards.
No matter that our bodies age, inside our minds are the most Dionysian of desires, in fact my favorite moment from years ago of getting hit on was an 80 year old ex sailor with emphysema and a proclaimed penchant for cunnilingus. He couldn’t fuck me, his dick didn’t work, but he could damn well go down on me and how’d I feel about that! We were in a nursing home, and I figured his oxygen mask needed to stay put, so I demurred with a wink and a kiss on the cheek.
It’s quite fair to say that we lust and desire the young, because they are beautiful. But isn’t it possible that that desire for them is also because they show us where we have already been? We already know we’ve written those stories, but still we’d like more, just a little bit more. We know our time is running out.
But fuck this unkindness. Listen to the voice of that desire in our minds. We need to hear the voice of desire inside screaming at us, like a dryad caught in the bark of a tree, like rings of trees inside us from youngest to our oldest forms. That one ring doesn’t age, but stays present and white hot if we just feel for it.
That ring calls out to us past all the other aging layers to fuck, to play, to drink, to seduce, to dance and rage against the impending years. To want so much that your body aches to be thrown, divided, devoured, torn apart, ruined. Ruin me with your body and destroy me with pleasure until there is nothing left but me as I am.
Listen to that ringing sound, even when the mirror is telling your youth is good and gone, you know it is still there, inside, alive.
Though I push back against the inevitable decline, and fear fully the stories of family members who have gone before me, with mangled their genetics, nightmare stories, that’s enough concern let alone quotes about tits and aging, I know in my heart that our bodies are meant to be ruined from each other, from living life, meant to decline like temples first strong and shining, into rubble of achy bones and weathered skin.
Our aging bodies remind each other, partner to partner, that we are not new anymore. This is hard, and scary, but it is also beautiful. Let us ruin each other with our sex, and love and pain and see each other fully and without words. We will wear our history on our bodies and it will tell us who we are. Our poems lead us from birth to death, and they are holy, all of them.
–Looking for one-on-one coaching on relationships, sexuality, life passages, or need support with personal or career goals? Seeking seeking a facilitator for your group or team to help promote healthy group dynamics and effective communication? Contact me here!