BY LISA LOCASCIO
CURATED BY PATRICIA GRISAFI
You came at me with a glint, fair and pure. I’d heard of you, sometimes believed, but experience taught me that it was better to stay tucked up, safe inside the warm snot, where I could wrap myself around and around until I forgot that I existed at all.
And then one morning you sawed me open, cutting your hand in the process. Blood swam in, and silver, and nothing was ever the same.
When I am drunk, my mother says, my femininity emerges in full. I reveal my rapacious inner slut. What if there was a knife who liked that part of me, my bottomless hole, my whole bottom, who was its keeper? What if there was a way to say, "I love you, Daddy," to a blade who did not make me?
The first time I saw you I was starving. I barely ate, I shone so bright. Really, it was fun, a magic trick: here comes the plankton, and now I don’t want it! Here grows the coral, and now it curdles in the sand. I prayed for bloom. Over and over I died. I made that rabbit disappear till my head sang.
What if there was a knife who moved in golden light, smelled like golden light, caught in the eyes as golden light, tasted of golden light? Well, I would wonder what was wrong with me, seeing things. Dreaming with my eyes wide open, already under you, looking up, whimpering I want to be a good girl for you.
In my childhood home, Halloween was the most beautiful time. We made seven-layer bars, coconut and condensed milk in a glass casserole. My mother painted her face half-light half-dark, and my father spun a web of streamers in a corner of the basement ceiling. We painted a pumpkin white and made it a cat. Magicked tiny lights into the branches of a miniature tree. In the shadowy closet night I coiled grains round my being, let the blackness between my legs dance.
The second time we saw each other you told me you were having a good time, and I smiled, sad. I closed my burning face. What could I do with a knife—I, made to withstand the possibility of cutting? I was evolved, ancient, wise. But in my vein was a humming: Open me. Use me.
When I was a girl, I liked to run around in unitards. They made me feel naked, let me twist my legs behind my head, pretzel right up. One morning I romped in the backyard in a big t-shirt only and my dad caught me and said, are you not wearing anything under that? Go inside and get dressed now, and I ran for the house and in my shamed haste tore my leg on a long nail. I never did end up in pants—the stripe-gash on my calf shutting me in dazed wonder in my room all the rest of that day.
The heat of it, your handle a warm flat stone. Later you told me that in that first moment—me in your hand rough and firm—that when I cracked and peaked out at you, you were so pleased you did a little meditation to ward off ego. You did a little meditation. I drew back inside and touched myself until I screamed my way into the harebrained heart thump of after.
Erotic daddy, spiritual husband of my shivering pink pearl slut self. Take off my dress and my skin. What if the knife held me and promised to take care of me forever? If his eyes were river-rich. If his hands the padding of a great cat on my cushy tummy. If his voice roiled, and his thoughts cleared like clouds, and I knew that the world itself was a place of thickness, that for once I was not too much?
I dive deep. You call me forward, bid me anemone-open, and I come like a calla lily. Fine-hand-bone-knife-wield. Sleepy tyrant, enfolded creature, blade setup like a kit, tight as I am around you, and I come like a thunderstorm, a tsunami, and you push molten gold up between us.
If lightning is a hand, you are in it. The blade comes the rain, you’re mine, sweet baby girl, mine, and the weather of your punctuation pries me out, rolls me open across your palm, and brings me to your mouth.
Lisa Locascio's work has appeared in n+1, Tin House, The Believer, Bookforum, and many other magazines. She is the editor of the anthology Golden State 2017: Best New Writing from California (Outpost19, 2017) and the ekphrastic collaboration project 7x7LA and co-publisher of Joyland. "The Pearl Sings To The Oyster Knife" is an excerpt from her manuscript Transmigration Spellwork, which will be published as a deck of oracle cards. Audio of Lisa reading this piece can be heard on the 52 Men podcast. In 2018, Grove Atlantic will publish her debut novel, Open Me.
Patricia Grisafi, PhD, is a New York City-based freelance writer, editor, and former college professor. She is currently an Associate Editor at Ravishly and a contributing writer and editor at Luna Luna. Her work has appeared in Salon, Vice, Bitch, The Rumpus, Bustle, The Establishment, and elsewhere. Her short fiction is forthcoming in Tragedy Queens (Clash Books). She is passionate about pit bull rescue, cursed objects, horror movies, and designer sunglasses.