DO YOU /\ DO I The stitches she sews above memories of fabric and fields. She uses a machine I never cared to learn how to hold. We need to learn a new stitch for every drop of memory. Fabric will never cover the blood.
Do you remember her hands when you dissociate into the time before you were made?
Remembering my grandma picking mushrooms in the snow. Surviving the starvation of the Russian Camp 45 years before I was made.
You woke up to the sound of a machine repairing tears, her ability to magically create using only her hands. Like forgotten hair after a shave, you helped collect all the pieces into the quilt you wanted to share. She was too tired to show you the tricks by the end of the day, you already memorized every hook the needle made. You sweat morning milk under the cover her hands made. Not enough fabric to tell an entire story, you decide to collect all the blues in the middle. Rubbing yourself against the blue sky you learned how pleasure could be confined for the first time.
Do you still hear the whales whispering tales about the creation of your name?
Hearing them argue about binaries assigned to them, does it really matter if it’s a girl or a boy, look down you’re already holding them.
I had a small tear in the back of my black velvet pants, they are soft to touch and I wanted her hands to slide on them. On the drive over, the tear got bigger and by the time I opened her door a third of my butt cheek was showing. Sitting on the couch flipping through a box of printed memories, she answers all my questions, bricks of intimacy, I feel dizzy. I was never someone’s first before she told me I was hers.
Do you remember the size of the needle her wrinkled fingers held, teaching you crochet secrets?
Remembering the smell of her neck above the apron as she added butter and milk and asked me to mash harder.
You became your own, flying through the hall as fast as you can, ignoring the sound of the machine stitching otherpeople’s problems. You used to wear the same white shirt for seven days. Disobeying the weekly stains you liked the smell. Her hands begging you to be her student again, you grew taller and sang to overcome the manufactured tracking sound. Not knowing how to explain that the needles in your dreams only know how to stitch skin. Do you regret tracing a tutorial for something you should have been a witness to?
Replacing the lost button from my jean shirt with a safety pin. No one showed me the moves of a string and, even if they did, in my fantasy she clenches her teeth to open the safety pin until her mouth bleeds.
I stood up from the couch to bring us water, now half of my butt cheek was gushing from the fractured velvet. I’m afraid to ask more about her history or her present, I roll up my sleeve to give my heart another layer of protection. I take off my pants before soaking in her salt, trying to remind myself not to drown in future thoughts. How can I differentiate truth from falsehoods when our reality is trickling from the cracks of our bodies.
Do you find comfort knowing that your body mimics her moves without your knowledge?
Giving gifts that someone else wants to take like stupid humans throwing pennies into fountains we’ll need to drink from one day. Wishing I could asked her from above the ground.
You sit on a porch looking out to the mountains, wearing the first dress you made from the fabric you found in her hidden boxes. You waited for thirty days before you allowed yourself to wear it, the smell of her was lingering and you needed her strength. Your hands are threading the bobbin, dropping the needle to weave color into color. The sound like a distant train reminds you this machine had a life before you. You count the hours of labor for each piece you make thinking eventually she will reappear.
Do you recognize thelabor of love that was capitalized for a warm house?
Recognizing lovers and believing you can sneak in, wanting the unattainable just to know you’re still pumping blood when you shut your eyes. Lions in the den wait for me, I’m coming to ride your belly again.
I wake up, it’s been three days and my skin doesn’t remember how to breathe without her licking it first. I need to leave, not because I want to but because my heart won’t survive another stitch. Untangling our limbs I crawl to the bathroom floor to find my inside out black velvet pants. I want your pores to sweat by me forever, and one day I will tell you what my mother tongue answered your mother tongue, it’s just too dangerous for right now. I leave, walking down the street, mooning the world as your shiver, the morning breeze, runs through my skin.
Meital Yaniv is an interdisciplinary visual artist writer and filmmaker currently working in Los Angeles. Meital was born in 1984, in Tel-Aviv Israel. Yaniv’s practice is built on a visual dialogue that bridges the personal and political conditions at the core of her origin. Yaniv conceives alternative practices for re-experiencing traumatic events through mirroring the other. Her book, Spectrum for an Untouchable is set to be published in November of 2016. Together with Eve LaFountain and Ali Kheradyar, Yaniv initiated the conversation series, Feminism Today in May 2013. Her work has been exhibited at LACE, LAST Projects, PØST, Photo LA, Cirrus Gallery, Shulamit Gallery, Raid Projects and For Your Art Gallery in Los Angeles. Yaniv holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts and a BFA from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design.
The Alice has a writer-in-residence program. We invite writers to sit with the work and then respond in any way they would like...their finished pieces are printed and handed out to viewers in the gallery.