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Anna Leventhal

06 Aug Anna Leventhal

FRENCHING THE EAGLE [EXCERPT]

 

We close our eyes. It is important that our eyes stay closed for the duration of the talk, because this is about finding a special space, and our special space is not outside our faces. So we keep them closed until the facilitator says we can open them. The facilitator is me. Now we put our minds in our bellies. What does that mean? It means be present in the centre of your body, because that is where the breath begins. In our bellies. We put our mind there. What do we see? Not a lot. That’s right. That’s because we’re not practiced. We are amateurs at belly vision, and we don’t know how to see from the inside. But we don’t worry. We are here to learn.

We relax every muscle in our bodies. We see each muscle as a shape made out of jelly, a moulded pudding pop, and we allow it to dissolve into the sea of consciousness. We breathe. We become aware of how our bodies are in contact with the floor, all the aches and pains we hold in our muscles, and then we let them go. We see our aches and pains as butterflies that we are releasing into the sky. They flutter upwards, and some are eaten by birds. We let them go. We understand our conscious mind as a sheet flapping on a laundry line, somewhere far in the distance. We let it flap.

Now we picture an object for each colour of the rainbow.

For instance, red might be an apple, a sunset, a spot of blood.

What might orange be? Yes, an orange, that’s good. Or maybe an orange ball, or an orange cup. Yes, or a sunset.

Yellow: a banana, ripe. Yes, or a sunset.

Green: a banana, unripe. Yes, or for red we could see one of those red bananas from Panama, but let’s stick with green. A blade of grass, a forest in the unfurling of summer.

Blue: the sea, in which our muscle-shapes have dissolved. The sky, in which our aches and pains have fluttered away.

And last is violet. What do we see for violet? A flower, or a silken violet robe. A velvet cushion with deep and lustrous pile.

Now we see ourselves in a hallway. We don’t name the hallway, but we see it. Once we can see a place without using words, we will be able to leave our bodies behind. We walk down the hallway, over the carpet, passing many doors on our right and our left. Which door will we choose? We choose a door. We place a hand on the knob and open the door. We go through the door.

In front of us we see a large marble staircase leading down. There are twenty-one steps. When we have stepped off the last step, we will be in our special place. We count together.

Twenty-one.

Twenty.

Nineteen.

Eighteen.

Seventeen.

Sixteen.

Fifteen.

Fourteen.

Thirteen.

Twelve.

Eleven.

Ten.

Nine.

Eight.

Seven.

Six.

Five.

Four.

Three.

Two.

We are ready to enter our special place.

One.

Now, we put on our high heels.

We put on our high heels because we are becoming something else, and to become something else we need to change the way we stand. Here is some pertinent information: personality begins at the sole. We understand this on the level of the animal within us, but our human bodies forget. It is an interesting fact that in French, the heels are called “les talons.” Talons. Does that make us think of anything? The French understand the relationship between the animal self and the human body. That is why they are the most sensual people. Why do you think they call it “frenching?” The eagle is a bird with chronic halitosis, because it eats mainly raw meat. Not many veggies on the mountain cold and craggy. But we are not here to judge or comment. We are here to be. We are here to embrace the eagle, to french it. Until we become it.

Becoming. It’s a beautiful word, isn’t it? It’s what we say of a girl who is turned out just right, just the cat’s pyjamas: Isn’t she becoming? Soon, that’s what they will say about you.

Good.

We notice how the shoes change the organization of our bodies. How many of us suffer under the impression that our bodies are imperfect communication devices, that they speak to us in a language we do not understand? We observe the increased arch in the back, the way the hips and breasts form a balance on either end, like dumbbells. It doesn’t matter what we’re wearing. Any outfit will do. Even in a baggy jumpsuit we can assume a certain degree of physical intelligibility, just by paying heed to how we stand. Even if we were in a straightjacket, even if we were swathed in canvas like a boat, our arms all twisted behind us, we would say, Okay, how can I turn this situation to my advantage? The answer is: elegance. Elegance is our sorcerer’s wand.

The heels are not elegance. The heels are the container for elegance. The rest is us.
All of us have done things that make us unable or unfit to walk amongst the majority of people. Some of us are thieves. Some of us—many of us—are whores. Some of us are murderers, child-killers, father-killers, lover-killers, husband-killers. Man-eaters. That is a joke, though most of us have tasted man-flesh in one form or another. Some of us did it out of necessity. Some of us did it out of sadness, or loneliness, or temporary insanity. Some of us did it because the voices wouldn’t stop. Some of us were too poor to be able to buy food for our baby, so we went out one night and shot a bank manager, just because. Because that’s what happens when you interfere with the natural order of womanhood. We are not talking about hunt and gather here, tend and nurture. We are talking about the mountain cold and craggy. We are talking about frenching the eagle. We are talking about a woman’s natural predisposition toward preservation of the integrity and beauty of the self. Another word for this is: elegance. Do you see where we’re headed here?

Our crimes are pitiful. But they are not us. We must remember to separate the crime, which is a product of the human body and its reachings and failings, from the animal self, which is us. When we feel fear, we repeat our mantra:

We are safe. We are loved. We are precious and above all elegant.

 


This story is excerpted from Anna’s first full length collection Sweet Affliction, published by Invisible Publishing. Anna Leventhal is a Journey Prize-nominated author living and writing in Montreal. Her work has been published in Geist, Matrix, Maisonneuve, and The Montreal Review of Books. Sweet Affliction is her first book.

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