a hundred-limbed hydra.

 By Erika Eckart.

“And as our hands go up again and the hips cha-cha real smooth there is no thought of the dishes or the laundry or the amassing cellulite or underwater mortgage.

Artwork by Ilya Volykhine.

All of us head to the dance floor: the barely pubescent, the slope of whose exposed clavicles hint at impending womanhood; the ripe unmarried with the perfect balance of flesh clinging to bone, dewy and bright; the recently-childed beginning to gray in both skin and hair in dresses and support garments bought just for the occasion; and the grandmas and great aunts whose looser flesh is cased in stiff, lined, pearlescent fabrics. We begin stretched out in rows eyeing each other to see how it’s done: which way is left, two hops then spin, hands on your knees. Then, in the second sequence all the older ladies move in sync and the younger ones begin to fake it and the mistakes are funny, which way is left, again? And the arms all go up, and the booties shake, everyone’s faces begin to gloss, drinks get put down. Someone who we didn’t think had it in them does a shimmy with their breasts and then a crescendo comes and one of the new moms attempts splits, because it’s that kind of evening, one deserving of breast shimmies and splits. We had worried that these two might not make it here: she is pushing 35 and him with the drinking, but tonight we only consider the beautiful parts: the ecstasy of gangly new love evident in the post-vow embrace when he engulfed her with his arms, that first fleshy grab of newborn finger, their interlaced hands going white at the webbing from pressure. And as our hands go up again and the hips cha-cha real smooth there is no thought of the dishes or the laundry or the amassing cellulite or underwater mortgage. Because look at how these two have combined to form this shiny, new, more durable thing. Everybody clap your hands. Clap, clap, clap your hands. In the morning, we will return to our own marriages, husbands already out of bed for the day, their crumpled clothes on the floor, the only evidence of last night’s elation: the ache of torn muscle fibers in our thighs, from how low can you go. Can you go down low? But for tonight all the iridescent material is hiked up and the great aunts pantyhosed legs emerge and there is a pulsing disco light, hands on your knees, hands on your knees. All our legs kick at once and we become one body, a hundred-limbed hydra ready to attack.

The Blood Pudding – December 4, 2020

Erika Eckart is the author of the tyranny of heirlooms, a chapbook of interconnected prose poems, (Sundress Publications, 2008). Her writing has appeared in Double Room, Ghost Ocean, Quarter After Eight, Quick Fiction and Quiditty, and elsewhere. She is a High School English Teacher in Oak Park, IL where she lives with her husband and two children.

Artwork: Ilya Volykhine is a Russian artist, who moved to New Zealand in 2009 after spending some time in the USA and Australia. Emerging from behind the iron curtain, his paintings and works on paper, capture the underlying forces that dominate and determine the conditions of the human psyche. You can find him and buy his work here.