What will I do when I’m ninety-three, quiet in the house of my decrepitude, sitting quietly on the front porch, fondling my own fingers like they belong to a lover? My skin looks coarse, doesn’t it: puckering itself up like a pulled seam, drawing up away from the bone and the blood, vainly trying to escape itself. For the record, I am not coarse. Anyone would know that if they reached out to touch me, but no one wants to touch me. I’m about to leave, it’s everyone’s last chance, and they still won’t touch me. I feel like water. Softer than I’ve ever been. Who wouldn’t want to hold onto water while they can, cup it in their hands. But then, we never do think of water as soft while we hold it, only as it slips away.
When I am ninety-three, when I am one hundred and three, when I don’t remember the numbers anymore, everyone will be younger. There will be no safe roof of elders above me, just the endless sky of the dead. It will be easy to think that everyone left will know less than me, will have spoken fewer words, felt less pain. But I hold no monopolies, I am no genius, and even a genius wouldn’t think that on their deathbed they had learned it all. In the end, I will still be missing something. I will die un-whole, and that is all I could hope for.
So, whoever dare touch me, come forward. Whoever dare show me something I have never seen (yourself), come to me, to my house, to the room where I keep warm in my old age. Give me what you can: a question, a conversation, an embrace, or curl up in my lap to sleep, or make love to me the way you know how (tender / violent / something else entirely). Breathe onto me. Leave the damp steam of your breath on my cheek, on my neck. Sleep beside me under the roof under the sky.
Sionnain Buckley is a queer writer and visual artist originally from Long Island. She is currently a nomadic work-trader and occasional muralist. When she isn’t making up strange stories, she is consuming queer media and popcorn in equal measure.