Primary Anatomy

by Rachel Gontijo Araujo


01:23 p.m.

Home; a brothel that empties itself into the open street. Every now and again I dream I come back and the building isn’t here. In its place, an orchestra of about 80 players, flattened, to cover the sound of the crash. The door large enough for a human to enter opens to brick walls that form a three-dimensional pattern resembling a sponge. I walk inside in zigzag, as if performing a number on the dance floor. Feet rise forming a vault above ground. I take out shirt; in front, ankle. Throw it on the floor; behind, ankle.

6:41 p.m.

I wake up to Justine asking me to meet her at Sphinx on 67 E. Cemark Road. She repeats directions over and over again. I put down phone and make my way to the shower stepping over a 4 beat measure to dislodge pain. Body appears in three phases- ice, water, vapor- circles excretory organ, tactile organ, heat-regulating organ, a warehouse, a factory and than sticks to itself. I grab floor mat to cover from below. From above, I see nothing but a braincase, everything else is completely over shadow. Sex organ is no longer in front of, but below the cranial cavity. I’m sure this is an entirely human feature and exists in no other animal.




The street is populated by old china and broken furniture. Justine sits in a rocker in the middle. I cross to the other side. She greets me and continues from the mouth to explain that Sphinx was opened out of a concern with public health. We walk to the back of a green over orange sign. She steps backward when I step forward, crossing foot when I cross ahead. Now and again we look at each other, corpses still warm from morning. Blood travels in a circle. Vein is lifted than lowered, attacking fundamental assumptions of movement.


The basement of an old residence. A wooden hut with a few windows sculpt corsets bearing the legend “studios for rent”. Justine seizes my hand. I don’t see much and hold, as we move down, to traces of what has been drunk, eaten and licked. After a few steps, vision seems to adapt itself to a photograph of the collapse of a prison in Columbus, Ohio encircling twenty-five bodies in nineteen to thirty inch tube-like hallways covered by a membrane resembling a hymen.

As I try to comprehend the reasons of me being here a woman with smoldering red feathers in place of hair starts mimicking Dietrich’s performance of ‘Morphine’. Cocteau’s Tiresias clungs to her body as she marks both legs to the ground, alternating tempos as if riding a horse. At the side of her pelvis three instruments: accordion, zabumba and a metal triangle.



Sight moves in a ¾ dance much like Bolero. Her body, a goblet shaped drum produces a distinctive crisp sound. I listen, sometimes looking at her, sometimes looking elsewhere. She nears issuing invitation. I adhere firmly to the inner surface of the last two vertebrae above her tail.

Reluctant, Justine lets go of my hand. I follow the woman into a room with a rattan chair suspended over the bed. A hole in the seat. She climbs. Her two lower orifices –sex and anus- stretch over twelve inches in length as if adapting itself to a growing fetus. Preoccupied with pleasure I tell her that I don’t know what I am. She pretends not to hear me and puts her arms forward to bring my head close. I rise on the balls of my feet and toes, knees bended. A flap of tissue, the epiglottis, folds over the opening of the larynx. Lips part. The mucin in saliva assists as tongue weighs on one hundred and seven vulnerable points. Slow and short, fast and wide, she slithers along tongue towards tip. I put hands around her waist to regulate circular motion of hips from right to left, from left to right, rolling forward and backwards. Nerves from tongue receive chemical stimulation that give a sensation of taste: Her vulva, rich in amber and civet provokes the feeling of hunger. I raise jaw to keep food from escaping.

Her body drips forward changing flow of air. I experience suffocation, as if drowning. Waves of contraction move down over shoulder. From below upwards, from above downwards, she sews herself into lingual nerve to ward off fear of impending collapse. I move jaw to the front and to the sides repositioning lips to facilitate speech. Contractions extend to the head, inclines it to the side and turns face in the opposite direction, drawing up to the outside the middle portion of her upper lip. Increasing measure of hardness, I chew on a body piece small enough to be swallowed. The muscle that follows is a muscle of grief.




RACHEL GONTIJO ARAUJO speaks Portuguese, writes in English and is located at an unequal distance between. She recently earned a Master of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago.