My and Meghan Lamb’s paths have twice crossed. Lamb’s “Inventory” is in Vestiges no. 2 alongside two of my poems. More recently, Lamb’s “All Your Most Private Places” appears in Almost Crashing no. 1—I’ve a selection from Notes on in the issue.
“Inventory” is about an orderly whose job requires an attention to detail, illustrated by his knowledge of patients’ old and “new scars, bruises, bites, and injuries.” To his life outside work, he’s inattentive. It’s thus that his personal life vanishes—almost without his notice. Soon after he and his girlfriend have sex (initiated by his girlfriend, and barely a distraction from work, TV, and his concern with his own scent), she dumps him. She is clear about it, and about why, but he isn’t listening. Instead—and this is my favorite moment in the story—“he’s thinking of the snowmen he has built throughout his life.”
He is, it’s made clear, an empty figure.
“All Your Most Private Places” is also concerned with work and sex—and sex work. Lamb’s sex scenes are not totally un-erotic, but she emphasizes not being there:
She closes her eyes. Her nipples rub against the linen. Sweat gleams on her stomach. She feels like she’s floating, falling into nothingness.
But more than work and sex, “All…” looks at fantasy. Museum fantasy (the past was like ____ ), magazine fantasy (“…she edits photos of rich people at events. She blurs and touches up and does good”), and sex fantasy (Playboy magazine, prostitutes who care for their clients—“He wanted her to like him.”). And in the background, death by nukes.
[ image: cover, Always Crashing no. 1—when you get the chance, view it with 3D glasses. ]