Thursday, July 20, 2020; 4:20 pm

I have boxes of disposal cameras with images locked inside of them. Last week, I took five cameras to the Walgreens with no expectation of what I’d find or from what periods of my life the photos would be. One camera produced nothing at all. The others produced only a few clear photos. Because I am currently writing a memoir and this week I’ve been trying to work out something between eros and sexual violation, I’m struck by the images of an old lover and me. I’m struck now by how I’m suddenly aware that all of my writing is trying to tease out this knot between eros and sexual violation, between the love and hate of eros as Anne Carson puts it, the way it [the wrap up/the warp up] grows and morphs from when infantile toward whatever monster it becomes/became. In this photo, I am the one standing naked on the threshold. I only half believe this. The body’s gender has a curve, a drape. I’m expelled. I don’t remember who took the photo. It’s 2003 and we’ve taken some of the money I got from an artist’s grant to spend two weeks in Provincetown. During the day I try to write and take a workshop at the Fine Arts Work Center; I don’t recall the instructor. I’m supposed to be writing my dissertation. At night my lover—K, who is white—and I go to bars and try to pick up girls, which we do on this one night with a degree of success that astonishes me. I can’t be one-hundred-percent sure who the woman is kneeling in front of that me. On the night of astonishing success K and I meet a woman at the dyke bar—a femme black woman with long braids and a tattoo that fills the entirety of her back—and invite her and another woman, who is white, back to our rental. We’re seeking balance of whatever sort.

There’s a daily cleaning service at the rental but always when we return the sheets are damp from humidity. The horns from the sea or the bay. The wind at night. The disparaged straights and day trippers. The bright assault of any walk through town. If play were always a thing unbound. I feel like this photo was taken from inside myself.

Dawn Lundy Martin is an American poet and essayist. She is the author of four books of poems: GOOD STOCK STRANGE BLOOD, winner of the 2019 Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry; LIFE IN A BOX IS A PRETTY LIFE, which won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry; DISCIPLINE, A GATHERING OF MATTER / A MATTER OF GATHERING, and three limited edition chapbooks. Her nonfiction can be found in n+1, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Believer, and Best American Essays 2019. Martin is the Toi Derricotte Endowed Chair in English at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics.