My Body in Three Move­ments

The Walrus - - CONTENTS - By Tess Liem


I read we can un­der­stand Shake­speare’s use of the word noth­ing as a ref­er­ence to zero where zero means a vulva, at least in his son­nets. I thought how nice: one of my body parts, in be­ing noth­ing, is some­thing. This some­thing enough to know I want to drop Shake­speare, stop writ­ing & learn how to do some­thing use­ful with my hands.

I thought it out, de­cided to be­come an elec­tri­cian & my friend told me

I would make beau­ti­ful light art: neon sculp­tures shaped like no thing in par­tic­u­lar. Or, my body all wired, lit & mov­ing.

But, no, it’s not my part to move noth­ing.


I’ll start a queer con­struc­tion com­pany to ad­vo­cate for our rights & I won’t wish for much else. A lie. I’ll try read­ing again, I’ll try writ­ing in the evenings when I am tired from wiring light.

& I’ll try not to ro­man­ti­cize this lit­eral elec­tric­ity. But I’ll prob­a­bly fail. Be­cause, well, hon­estly,

I am try­ing to fig­ure out a way to want to be in the world. & you know I ex­pect to be told not to put words like hon­estly in my po­ems, not to start with that shit. So I won’t start with it. I won’t end with it hon­estly ei­ther.


I thought about it & the noth­ing was not my body. It was not my body: a tight four­teen lines. It could not be mine. & it would not be my body drunk with neon lights ei­ther. It’s eas­ier if I un­der­stand it is not my body in par­tic­u­lar. Eas­ier if I ac­cept ac­cepted crit­i­cism, if

I ad­mit noth­ing ever hap­pened to any part of my body, if I lie, if I have noth­ing to lose. Easy if

I’m an ab­sence named noth­ing.

I write

0 to de­scribe grief & to me it means

I had more than a pen to be­gin with.

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