© 2023 by Ashley Czajkowski

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Of a Domestic Ritual

 

To all Women

who, following the lessons

herein taught, will be saved the

sufferings peculiar to

their sex

~ Dedication from Tokology, 1888

 

There is beauty in the controlled. We are taught this from birth, and it is reinforced as we grow—this body can be beautiful, but there is work to be done before it is perfect. There are feathers to be plucked, edges to round, blemishes to cover, monsters to tame. Everything must lie straight and still. I must remember to be light and soft. Quiet and unmoving.

But the day I discover my body, I’m in the shower. Filth slides slick down my spine. My arms fall heavy. My fingers reach halfway down my thigh, and dig. They feel blood pumping through, and they feel the thick, tough skin that stretches around. I am curious about the way my body moves, the way it sounds, the pulses and reactions it creates and experiences within itself. The sharpest pain and deepest emotions are just bearable for me—frightening for others.

 

The day I discover my body, I realize that I must carry it the way that it feels—full of curves and texture, heavy with health. It is a sponge to everything around it. Flesh that is one with the soil, and energy that is one with the sky. My body creates and carries life before it is life. But what must it go through to complete this task? And what would happen if I let it out? If I let the hysteria unravel within me, then I might understand. We all might understand.

 

~ Response Statement by Kelsey Pinckney