A word about mouths and hands

His door is ajar. He is of course there, drinking, not painting. He is thinking of painting, but the only thing he wants to paint is the girl from the photo. And so he goes to the studio every day and drinks himself into oblivion and either sleeps in his own excess or stumble-fucks his way back home. I don’t know how these people stay alive, but they do. They do. And then they don’t.

How you frame it is all in her hands.

She takes her right hand out of her coat pocket and you move to slow motion again. Her hand then takes up the entire shot, larger than life. Her hand (with blood-red traces) pushes the door open as if she is moving gender itself.

He turns and looks at her, but the camera’s point of view is hers, not his, and so he looks small and puzzled, like a circus midget, at first. Then he looks like a tiny symbol of a man whose prayers have been answered, and he lowers his head, and no I am not kidding, he cries. Huge heaves like a kid. He cries and cries.

You will think there are pages missing, whole scenes.

But there are no pages or scenes missing.

This is the room of art.

Your life rules do not apply here.

Hold still.

I have related this earlier, but I will remind you: the first thing he says, the first words out of his mouth are, I have been painting you.

There is no conversation about this.

There is nothing that … confuses her or hoodwinks her or overpowers her.

She simply removes her clothes—and how you film this is mostly through color and odd angled blur, a little abstract and almost underwater looking—until she is nude there before him, except that again it is not his point of view, so it is not really before him, and to the audience it looks like some mythic woman god taking up nearly the entire frame except for the almost-cowering man in the lower-right-hand corner.

A miniature man of a man. Twitchy and nervous and simian.

Her body is enormous and milk-blue-aqua.

It almost glows.

You fill the screen with her out-of-focus back and ass and oceans of blond hair. And you take a further risk: you let the camera linger there, with the little monkey of a man frantically painting in the small right-lower corner, for an enormously long time.

It isn’t very dramatic how they come to each other. It’s actually rather simple: His erratic monkey-man gestures finally overtake him and he lunges at her and she absorbs him, like energy disappearing into its opposite.

She laughs, but the sound is loving, not mocking.

For four days, they wrestle-fuck—what is making love—what has it ever been—what is it in this moment—violent “making”—on the floor in the paint and the sweat and the secretions of a male body and a female body. They eat and drink minimally, mostly alcohol and water and pretzels and oranges.

A word about mouths and hands.

You will have to work hard to figure out a way to do credit to this on film. Because the fact is, their devouring mouths and their uncontrollable hands are much more important than their genitals. This has never been filmed before, nor captured in writing, but it is the truth beneath the lie of what usually passes for the “sex scene,” and all I am doing is naming it.

This may not be true for everyone, but it is true for them: that their mouths and their hands are the center. The absolute fulcrum from which all energy emerges. And every other organ or opening is simply an extension or metaphor.

It goes without saying that they both bleed, numerous times.

Biting, scratching, tearing, cutting.

It goes without saying that they paint together with blood.

Four days.

A bloody, messy lovemaking.

That’s it. That’s the scene.

Lidia Yuknavitch, The Small Backs Of Children, 2015.

Obscene and beautiful making against the expanse of white

She hears it again, then, and knows it—a wolf caught in a trap. She looks down near the fence line. It is a wolf, beyond beautiful, with its leg caught in a trap. She moves closer, aware now of how the cold is biting into her. She studies the wolf. The wolf is smart. It is almost finished. She thinks, in only the briefest of thoughts, of releasing it.

The wolf is nearly free.

In its freedom it will lose a leg.

It will be worth it.

She holds perfectly still.

More still than a dead person.

Which she has seen, many times—a corpse in snow.

She watches the wolf chew its own leg by the light of the moon, by the rhythm of its journey. The moon makes its slow arc in the sky, and inside the moon’s movement, reflected in the girl’s eyes, the wolf finally frees itself.

It is then that she does something pure bodied. Child minded. She goes to where the rust-orange and black metal of the trap sits holding its severed limb, to where blood and animal labor have reddened and dirtied the pristine white of the snow—like the violence against a canvas. There, without thinking, she pulls down her pants, her underwear, squats with primal force, and pisses and pisses where the crime happened. A steam cloud moves upward from the snow and the blood as the relief of rising heat warms her skin.

Her eyes close.

Her mouth fills with spit. This is how the sexuality of a girl is formed—an image at a time—against white; taboo, thoughtless, corporeal.

She opens her eyes.

The piss smell and the blood smell and the youth smell of her skin mingle. She licks her lips.

The wolf runs.

It runs three legged, like all damaged creatures, across the snow.

She thinks: this is true.

She thinks: this is a life.

She thinks: I do not want to die, but my life will always be like this—wounded and animal, lurching against white. She bends down and rubs her hands in the blood. She lifts her hands, her eyes, her heart to the heavens, in the space where they say god is, a god she has never known, a god she will replace with something else. Her small hands make what might look to an outsider like a prayer shape. But she is not praying.

She closes her eyes. This is the night it happens. She looks down at her red hands. She laughs, up. She bends down and wrenches the severed limb from the trap. And then she runs toward a self.

What is a girl but this? This obscene and beautiful making against the expanse of white. This brilliant imagination, inventing meaning.

Lidia Yuknavitch, The Small Backs Of Children, 2015.