Before I even registered
the raise of her hand,
my body jerked violently away, tipping my chair.
It was a two-part movement: the head ducks down, crouching,
then the neck jerks violently away,
pulling the rest of the body with it
but these two separate movements work
like the cock and pull of a gun.

Only after it had happened did I even realize
that she had moved her hand,
and that my body,
disgusted with my ineffectuality,
had somehow decided that it would,
entirely independant of me,
preserve itself.

This reflex of swiftly lowering the head and swerving away,
completely involuntary, remained with me for years to come.
It would often embarrass both of us at dinner parties.
She would reach over for something;
seeing her hand in the corner of my eye,
my entire body would, jerk away,
spilling everything.

Each time it happens again, so many years after its conception,
I am still stunned at the vehemence with which the body remembers wounds
that have been inflicted upon it. How does it know that it is her and no one else?

It is so much more angry than I am;
even before the mind registers and long after the mind forgets,
the body cannot forgive.

It must flinch.
That is also why our muscles knot,
without us knowing exactly why:
the muscles are still wrenching free from some nightmare
our minds have long put to rest.
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