The Moonstone Effect (1959-2005) by Dorothea Tanning
You need someone to dig you out of this rut, push this rock away, pull you over this wall, extract you from this barbed wire, unravel your tangled nerves, erode your chipper defenses. I will short rope you up this mountain, you filthy little lamb, you keep slipping in your bad shoes, clutching your thin coat around what you call your bad neck, peering over every sheer edge in your sheer dress, imagining sharp rocks at the bottom shredding your flesh like paper.
Look up, you twisted fleecy bitch boy, you sordid sullen man-girl, you trippy fallen nowhere men and baby belles and barren old mares, yellowing like old lace, shattered and afraid and stumbling backward. Aim your eyes at the sizzling sun and believe that you were built to march upward, you’re already doing it, dummy, thinking your rancid twisty thoughts, believing in love and madness and soft things and us, together, alone, finally, against this ennobling field of ice. I brought coupe glasses fragile as frost, cured fatty meats and flowery gins to blaze through your veins like liquid flame. I brought chiffon nighties and platform boots that you’ll call undignified, but you weren’t in the proper place to advise before, remember? Sweet lamb skewered, marinated, making yourself into a meal for a voracious but indifferent monster again, just because that’s who showed up hungry.
Few people can feed you joy. Fuck, they can’t even sit in the passenger seat on the way to joy, or in the jump seat, in the baby seat, in the hatchback, strapped to the roof, dragging behind like tin cans, bouncing and sparking across the mundane world, wincing at every blow. Few people are light-boned and curious enough to drag upward, tug forward and lug over, carrying their things for them, telling them to cry whenever the mood strikes, urging them to laugh as they’re crying, reminding them that saltwater flows downward, melting the ice, and winds its way to the ocean, where the real party begins. That’s not me they’ll tell you, I hate mountains, fuck the sun, I’m not like that, fuck the ocean.
They want to be loved but not known, or known but unloved. They want to feel rejected so they can work harder to be someone they’re not, even as they tell you who they think they are, pretending it’s all set in stone, pretending they’re not already changing before your eyes. They want to feel your warm hands on the back of their neck but without the part where you actually put your actual hands on their actual neck, and feel the rays of the moon solidify inside them like hot glass. They want to stay fragile as frost, cured fatty meat all tangled in barbed wire, dripping salt on the snow, looking down down down to where the jagged edge of the cliff meets a river of tears.
But once in a while you find one, so sure that you’re wrong but still listening, turning it over, full of secret hopes and strangled longing, bright and blazing imagination hidden behind dead eyes, like stars waiting behind a flat overcast sky for dark to fall so they can finally blaze.
I know you, I tell them.
I know you better than you do, I know you already, I knew you before I met you. I see you twinkling, you sodden little sulker, I hear your muscles aching in the dead of night, I smell your wretched daydreams during my lunch hour, you utter fool, you sentient haze, you grumpy fumbler, you tiny little too busy gotta run, always holding those words in your minty mouth like an anxious bird twitching behind the cage of your locked teeth. You think those sounds will keep you free but they keep you underfed, underserved, underwhelmed, because you’re half girl, half horse, half wizard, half whore, half barkeep, half bear trap, half glazed, half razor, half empty, half bad.
That’s five fair freaks in one sack of cells, begging for forgiveness and entrapment, aching for anguish and titillation, exhausted by your own tired tales, ravenous for salvation, for danger, for blind allegiance, for a best friend forever and ever, the blood and the thorns, sunlight and splinters, the ennobling surrender to the will of the sky. I know you, voracious indifferent monster. I see the lamb inside but this is not a sacrifice. We belong on a mountaintop together, that is all.
Ask Polly left the Cut for Substack, where my bitch sister plans to expand her day spa prose and experiment with her refrigerator magnet inspo and lobotomized bourgie butthole collabs. Will Molly stay weird? Please stop underestimating me, it makes your skin look dull and gray.