10 Apr Klara du Plessis
HELL LIGHT FLESH [EXCERPT]
Enveloping each leg with a thick layer of white,
to run the razor upwards,
breaking a track of skin,
wash the blade,
Take care around the kneecap,
in and between the shape of muscle, care behind the ankle.
Moisturizing limbs to a surface,
Planning to study dermis and pigmentation, I get bored at the mention of melanin and stop.
The indecent flatness of perfection.
One day I take a little razor and shave it all off.
Looking obscenely young, I admire myself,
head bent over myself,
or staring forward in a mirror.
stripped to possibility.
Discover me or I need to discover myself.
For in the shower every drop of water is felt.
I am exposed and experience it as an intrusion.
Hair is an extra layer of skin, a means not to feel.
Being now so naked I sense my modesty even with clothes on.
Edge a blade across my most intimate skin,
a clean, marble look, with a slight rose glow moving downward towards the lips.
By evening, there is a blue tinge,
little heads below the skin,
a female five o’clock shadow.
Shaving then isn’t an option. It speeds growth and thickens the bush.
It leaves a latent feel of uncleanliness, little cuts and ingrown hairs.
I try waxing a stylish square of hair.
Return to a woman where I don’t mind unfolding my legs.
She touches without fearing the smell of me.
Obviously one showers comprehensively before such an intimate appointment.
She cleans me up and pats me dry like a baby.
But after, the sides are red,
the pores stand out,
little specks of blood where tough hairs are extracted,
discolorations in the soft folds between thigh and pelvis,
a bikini wax gone wrong, the sensitivity of my pubis renders it unsightly.
After a number of days the region temporarily settles into cinematic perfection.
Before long the hair grows out while also still too short to redo.
Or the recurrent process, for me, simply too expensive.
There’s an acid lotion that eats away the hair.
You smear it on like cream,
scrape it off with a little pink, plastic tool,
scared to burn your fingers
while lathering it directly on intimacy.
It stinks of putrefaction and dissolution of tissue.
Why complain, professionals say, laser hair removal is permanent.
Permanence sounds traditional.
Hair has a life of its own.
two hairs per root.
It bursts through the surface, pubescence vying with maturity.
Or it won’t grow at all, sticking beneath the skin, a type of pelvic acne.
I read somewhere,
who cares, just pop them as you’d do on your face,
I’m shocked, can’t believe what I see.
It’s all about surface.
To do with hair connecting the inner and outer planes of body, while also destructing the flatness of skin,
hairs like hands flailing to grasp at reality.
It’s different when hair is removed, uniformity installed.
Feeling up and down the leg, so smooth, a veneer, but empty.
One-sided touch, a hand running along skin, but body not reaching back.
Initially when I decide to tidy up pubic hair, I’m told, think about it,
there are styles, you need to choose yourself an identity.
Do you want nothing,
a strip of hair,
if you leave some, will it be trimmed or naturally curled.
People like to say, au naturel, as if it’s funny or an aesthetic choice to be yourself.
Surface can mean that which is obvious,
or that which is not obvious at all.
Like the area of my visible body, a first superficial layer.
Like what still needs to surface, what is hidden deeper.
It’s in submission then, with a gesture of penitence, that one day I start removing my body hair one by one,
plucking each out with a pair of tweezers.
The guilt of imperfection weighs me down.
I sense that my body is in the wrong.
It should be crystal clear.
Klara du Plessis is a writer living in Montreal. In the past, she’s collaborated with various artists to put together multi-disciplinary projects of poetry, music and dance. She curates the Résonance Reading Series.