The Shower // Vi Khi Nao

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Only a cat teething could give someone’s skinned knee the color of laceration that appeared so painfully on Manuela’s leg. Manuela moved like a cat. Even when she took off a shirt she declared and acknowledged it as ugly, she was swift and feline-like about it. Her full sagging boobs had an appearance of two tanned, inflated Chinese dumplings. The kind that slid off a Julam bamboo steamer unjubilantly while Elise’s sexagenarian breasts may have spent their long life on a pancake grill. They were flat and antisocial. Nudity in film has casual (is that the right word?) exploitation written all over it. For instance, for a ten minute, independent film — is it worth the risk? To expose oneself to the infinite eyes of the camera? The actresses — terribly unpaid. Even nude models for an art class get paid more per hour for their short exposure. A film has an infinite amount of long exposure. The kind that lives a billion lives. If we view these actresses, pretending to be lesbians, to be cats, their nudity is just an exaggeration of them stretching into full form. And, what we view as nipples may just be hair? Right, in the shower — you can see that Elise is on the verge of a mental breakdown. The cat-she is prepared for anything. To fully love. In taking-the-cat-to-the-vet sensibility. In the I-will-let-you-in after you wander in the night solitarily.

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VI KHI NAO is the author of seven poetry collections & of the short stories collection, A Brief Alphabet of Torture (winner of the 2016 FC2’s Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize), the novel, Swimming with Dead Stars. Her poetry collection, The Old Philosopher, won the Nightboat Books Prize for Poetry in 2014.  Her book, Suicide: the Autoimmune Disorder of the Psyche  will be out of 11:11 in Spring 2023. A recipient of the 2022 Jim Duggins, PhD Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize, her work includes poetry, fiction, film and cross-genre collaboration. She was the Fall 2019 fellow at the Black Mountain Institute: https://www.vikhinao.com 

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