I’ve never sought the company of a leech. Their tiny sphincteric maw is like the setting of a ring for sliver-sharp ivory teeth, which are primed to puncture and latch onto a host. The creature then injects the host with a potion carefully crafted to keep the wound it made from clotting. This odontic surgical equipment is encased at the front of a flat and fluid black body. The whole form of a leech communicates a queasy vagueness, like an ink splatter that wriggles suddenly on its own, or the concepts of a torso, tail, and wing boiled together and reduced to their simplest geometries. All of these Lovecraftian features are but tools for the leech’s unsettling purpose: to feast, uninhibited, on the lifeblood of a larger creature.

While I’ve never sought the company of a leech, this description is directly analogous to that of my kitten.

I named him Rorschach, and he latched onto me both physically and emotionally as soon as his fuzzy head peeked out from under a parked car made contact with my hand. I decided I’d keep him if he would cost me less than $250 over the next two months. That was immediately not the case, but thanks to the dark arts achievable through credit cards, I’ve been able to retcon my broken self-agreement. Now, my skin is covered in warm red lines – ghosts of rendings past – that heal but never quite disappear because they’re immediately replaced with fresh crimson punctures and fissures. I’ve had to tighten my budget to staunch the extra seepage from my bank accounts. I often sit on my couch and catch in my peripherals a ill-defined blob slinking from one shadowy corner of my house to another.

And so, I have willingly – intentionally – taken up company with a black, flailing, bankletting creature. I have but one assurance that Rorschach is not a pitiless parasite: leeches don’t purr.

Oh sure, he looks plenty innocent. But this cat hugs with his TEETH.

Cut from the full post as I didn’t want to double-down on metaphors, the following is another, completely accurate description of kitten.

He walks a fine line between cuddly creature, bloodsucking parasite, and cunningly coded kitten cyborg: black, sleek, and perfectly engineered to generate maximally resonant purrs at an efficiency unprecedented for his slight make and body size. His biscuit-kneeding technique is unrivaled. Soon after taking him in, many other features were somehow patched into his software, including Bites™, Bites+Scratches™, JeansThreading 2.0.1, and Erratic Mode. All of this, yet his recharge time is almost negligible.

Threads and Bareness

There is a cozy ambiguity in words like love, pain, and vulnerable. We wear them out like an oversized sweater…

(From Dec. 13, 2018)

There is a cozy ambiguity in words like love, pain, and vulnerable. We wear them out like an oversized sweater, content to be frumpy and featureless in order to stay swaddled in the familiar. People can see just enough of us – our faces and fingertips the only flesh exposed to air and eyes – for us to feel understood and to think they understand. And they do, in a way. They wear sweaters too.

But I can hardly see myself underneath all of that fabric. And I am ill-defined when I wear words like “love” and curl up in the assumption that others know precisely what I mean by it. I don’t always know precisely what I mean by it.

So, I tug at the sleeves of “love” and “pain” and “vulnerable” and try to write poetry. I pull the words up over my stomach and past my chest to get to what’s underneath. I get my head stuck in the neck hole, stumbling and struggling with the ocean of language around my head. I finally strip those ragged, rippling yards of cliche away, and I am naked. Perhaps not understood, but definitely seen – my outer boundaries, what is flesh and what is put upon. I am a canvas uncovered, and the stories of my life are on display in every curve, divot, spot, and scar painted on and sculpted in my skin. There’s a lot to study there: birthmarks I didn’t know I had, bruises of unknown origin, Funderburgian and Watsonian leitmotifs found in the shapes of my hands and nose….

But I can’t be naked all the time. More often than not, it’s inappropriate, unapproachable, and it’s simply too cold outside. Exposure is exhausting. So I put a sweater back on, covering up my unadulterated details. But I choose my outfit more carefully this time, wearing phrases more fitting to my form and present company. Sometimes an old, oversized sweater like the word “love” is just the right attire.