Darla Mottram


            I want to do what my mother did. I want

                        to make a hole

                                    in my life & watch it

                        widen. Desire complicates. I wanted

            not to want so I grew myself

                        into a garden, dense canopy

                                    from under which

                        I see _________ losing sight

            of me. Will _________ still

                        love me when I'm

                                    in plain view? Marina Abramovic

                        cut a hole into the seat of her chair

            so she does not need to leave the arena

                        to pee. The artist is present longer

                                    than other people. The show must go

                        on, but eventually it doesn't. Is love

            a performance? I have, at times, failed

                        to reconcile my actions with my

                                    reflection. I have cheated. No,

                        that does not make me

            a cheater.




            Marina Abramovic allows her

                        audience to act upon her with

                                    any number of objects: feather,

                        olive oil, scalpel, honey, rose, scissors,

            gun with single bullet. She remains

                        passive as strangers strip

                                    her of clothes, drizzle

                        honey on her lips, tickle

            her hips, hold a gun

                        to her head. Who would

                                    surrender their life this way?

                        Yet we do it all the time. Let's

            grow old together, one of us

                        says. _________ kisses my nipple

                                    between licks. I take __________’s

                        trust & wind it

            tightly around mine. We keep walking

                        in circles. Because you're mine. Even when

                                    you're not. I look up. I'm staring into

                        a different set of eyes. One of us

            still steady with belief.




            Dylan is playing in the background, the same

                        song looping eight years of my

                                    life. The ghost of electricity

                        howls in the bones of her face...

            I was in love with X. X left, so I

                        cheated. I cheated, so X

                                    left. Then there was Z. The whole time

                        I was with Z I had unresolved feelings

            for X. I left Z to be with X. It took being with X again

                        to realize it was never about

                                    X or Z, all these years, it wasn't love

                        tormenting me—it's the need

            when someone slaps your

                        cheek—to turn the other. The compulsive desire

                                    for symmetry, like the time I poured

                        a pot of boiling water

            over my left arm, the pain so engulfing

                        I had to sleep with one arm dangling

                                    off the bed into a bucket of ice water,

                        & all night I dreamed of setting fire

            to the other.




            Using twenty knives & two tape recorders, Marina Abramovic

                        grips a knife with one hand & rhythmically

                                    jabs between the spread

                        fingers of the other. She plunges

            the knife into flesh, picks up a new

                        knife & begins again, until she has cut

                                    herself with each blade. She stops

                        the first tape. Sets up the second. Repeats

            the performance, stabbing herself

                        again to the same rhythm & in

                                    the same places as

                        before. Let's grow old together. What happens

            is a merging. Past & present. Accident

                        & intention. Because you're mine. Even when

                                    you're not. A recording of a performance

                        which relies on a recording

            of a performance. A dual

                        rhythm. When the first tape finishes, she stops

                                    the second, sets aside

                        the knives, rises to her feet. She leaves

                                                                                    without a word.

Darla Mottram is a writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her work has been featured in print and online at NAILED Magazine, SOFTBLOW, After Happy Hour Review, Prick of the Spindle, and Voice Catcher Journal, among others. Her most urgent passions include literature and long walks on windy days, preferably with her dog Banjo in tow. You can find her online at darlamottram.net.

JD Thornton