If people always knew when intruders had broken into their homes, no one would ever die this way. I grab a chef’s knife, the knife that slices through raw chicken, bone and flesh, and return to the living room where the moth persists at the lamp. There’s only one way to be sure. I’ll have to check.
Perhaps because of the housing boom and bust of the early 21st century, American society is now more aware of the “near poor” or people who are just getting by. But when I was a teenager, normal-looking actually meant “just like everyone else.” No one knew I was hungry and poor.
Ruth had always said that when she was too enfeebled to live independently, she’d “off” herself, as she put it with characteristic candor. A Right-to-Die advocate for decades, she was now bequeathing possessions. That’s what people did when they were going to do themselves in. Ruth would have been proud of me for putting it that way, for not resorting to a more comfortable euphemism.
My body is a private and practical thing—something yielded to the production of children and the scrubbing of a bathtub, but not something I would find either pleasure or pride in offering to the public. And yet, here I am, sitting in front of a computer, offering its naked portrait to the public gaze because, as a writer, my job is to be publicly naked.
Again, a question of language—I use the possessive pronoun and I become ill at ease, a little sick, the way you feel when you’ve eaten too many sweets—my rapist, the way I call my lover, my mother, my son.