Glaciers are the Gaolers of Floods

by Trilety Wade

A glacier, photo by Cassie Matias
Photo by Cassie Matias@Unsplash

My official diagnosis came two years ago. But I’ve suffered from cyborg syndrome since the age of eight when the conifers couldn’t protect me from the violence of mothering. The difference between being mothered and being smothered is the difference between Mamas’ Boys and Frozen Men.

“What if you had a mother who loved you instead of. . . suffocated you?” a question my third girlfriend asked two days before I broke up with her.

Suffocated. As if that was the minimalness of it.

Suffocated by body.

Suffocated by breasts.

Suffocated by what was called love.

If I’d attempted to answer my almost-ex honestly, I may have said, “I have no fucking clue, Amanda, but what I can tell you is that I don’t date women with bra sizes bigger than A.”

My snide defensiveness was the obstacle to any productive communication, even in my conversational imagination. Instead, I politely dismissed her query, “It’s not really worth thinking about. Maybe curry for dinner?”

Would she have understood what I meant about my big-breasted trauma anyway? Did I even understand? I’m adept at not lying while never truly answering, better known as Roundabout Honesty.

The slow-melt asphyxiation that accompanies being held too long in the gelatinous fat of your mother’s bosom is akin to drowning in a flood of your own tear-soaked, pungent preadolescent sweat.

I decided to go cyborg the night the needles of the pine tree compassed themselves toward me, viewing the abuse through the windowpane. The wind rustled their height, so they tip-tapped the second-story glass, trying to scrape their way in. But those needles were also tethered to the stickiness of their mother, so all they could do was be witness to the choking shame of my little-boy body reacting against my will to the caress that should have been gentle but mutated to personal.

We are the ever unreachable.

We are the ever unreached.

And so, the panic swelled my insides; my whole body, a mouth on the wet verge of vomit.

And my fear tumesced my limbs; my appendages, cocks on the cusp of erotic compression.

“You tried,” I said to the pines at celluloid dawn.

“We did,” the needles yowled in the wind of morning’s futility.

I spent that next morning, at the age of still 8, getting adept at self-inflicted surgery. Snipping away the smotheration of flesh and the memory of the moment I realized safety isn’t for everyone. Stitching up the metaphor of meat and muscle.

Until I could remember, without sensing.

Until I could live, without feeling.

Going cyborg meant substituting data for sensation, and metal for flesh.

Decades later, and not much of the original me is left.

Pines are planted to break the wind. A fortress of poke and sap.

But can they attenuate the damage of floods?

Glaciers are the gaolers of floods.

Potential energy vs kinetic energy.

Glaciers wait.

Glaciers gather.

Glaciers hunt.

Ever threatening to melt.

Since the night of the pine needles, 22 years past, I’ve gone about my days glacially, slow and potent.

I’ve lived my days in cyborgian security.

No hurt. No despair. No embarrassment. No hate.

Tho no joy. No exuberance. No excitement. No love.

Where my cock was all kinetic, my heart was pure potential.

How safe and contained those days felt. The ability to laugh with a disconnected lightheartedness. The ability to manipulate people into loving me from an acceptable distance. Nothing could bring me to tears, tho nothing could bring me to climax either. All rock and no release. Orgasms are an uncontrolled mess anyway - a giving over of power, like letting someone else drive. The terribleness of just the thought of it drips from my stalactite teeth filling a choke in my throat.

Curry forged the only warmth in me, my favorite of meals. Years after Amanda and I shared our last curry, I sat alone in the Thai spot down the block from my apartment where the tiny elderly owner and I enjoyed the silently stable relationship of Restauranteur and Regular. Few words passed between us, but she cared for me, and I was grateful. She filled my water, brought my tea, and gave me the level of spice I needed rather than the amount I wanted.

My mostly cyborg body was still cold from the ambient winter that waited outside because metal is cold-blooded. It’s strange how loneliness has a feeling, but I amputated the feeling long ago, so now I can only relate loneliness to the vague smell of mildew. Bleach, though, is a smell of cared-for. So when the aroma of chlorine crept its invisible way down the corridor, I knew the old lady had started her nightly ritual of “putting away the restaurant.” Just as my tea was about to give up the last of its ghostly warmth, she came to refill me. I looked at her. My eyes vacant and mouth empty. She patted me on the hand; two appendages of time layered in a cake of vein and bone. She had poured so many teas in her lifetime that she could abandon the spout to look at me as my cup lost capacity.

“You are very American. You forget connection.” Her voice was staccato and quick, like the pounding of a dozen nails in a house being built far away.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“You forgot harmony. You can’t amputate yourself any longer. I am your neighbor, and my house has no fence.”

She removed her hand from mine and placed it solidly at the center of my back, all the while allowing me to watch her moves as if she intuitively knew about my startle reflex.

“My house has no fence,” she said once again.

As the “Ssss” of her fence disappeared into the steam of the tea, a rush of flood surged through my once-upon-a-time eyes, and I soaked her flat chest with years of tears in the middle of the empty restaurant.

Trilety Wade

Trilety Wade writes. The “body” is a running theme of her work. She writes essays, short fiction, and poetry. Rules are rarely followed tho she doesn't shun them, because sometimes the confines of guidelines are cozy.



2024-Mar-01 00:31

Thank you, Trilety. Nicely done. It's a rather wrenching piece, balanced by the kindness and wisdom of the lady in the restaurant, wise, and secure in her house without a fence.