Guest Post: An Excerpt with Commentary from “White Wedding” by Kathleen Woods

White Wedding follows an enigmatic woman wandering from a pleasure mansion to a backyard wedding, upending the lives of everyone present.

From Kathleen Woods:

In this excerpt, a girl struggles with the mystery of her roommate, who leaves perfect gifts, communicates through whiteboard messages, and draws a thick curtain around her bed, refusing to be seen. And yet the roommate must have a body—how else does she leave the smell of sex in the girl’s room?

            This scene inhabits the rich, confusing swirl of queer awakening. We are surrounded by narratives that offer limited and limiting definitions of sex, desire, and identity, but we also live in bodies. We can be overwhelmed by sensation. What might we discover about wanting when we forget what we know and sink in?


The girl meets the changed smell of her room. What has it become? Anise? Still abrasive, but not without warmth and, in fact, not unlike a fever and spoonfuls and a gentle hand on the brow. She hates this less. But there are smells and her appraisals of smells, and she is suspicious of both and adept at refuting conclusions, pushing instincts far from her mind. Her roommate’s whiteboard reads, Are you mad at me? and at once, the girl thinks yes and no. She writes, How could I be? I hope you’ll come talk to me. She writes, I can listen without looking. She brushes her teeth and returns to an answer. Don’t push. She erases it letter by letter. I live alone, she decides.

But every night, she flicks on the candle and faces the curtain. Every night, she lies awake in the smell. It is shifting. River rocks pressing moss down her belly. Raw egg whites coating hands. Apple cider vinegar and black mold and carrot peels, the sun on slate tiles, and blanched driftwood and opal, abalone, bodies swimming up bodies, and flour dusting elbows, steel grinding iron, and clementines, soaked chickpeas, the follicles of hair shed between stomachs, the curl tucked again behind the ear. When did she agree to all this, all these strangers sweating in her room? She can’t study. Why think? The texture of the air always changing. The hours wandering, harried, stretching time before that last moment in the hallway, the coil tightening through her body, her whole self compelled through the door and the air waiting, whispering something new. The girl writes lists on the whiteboard. She ranks favorites. She crosses them out. How many strangers have learned her sleeping sounds? She wants them back. She wants to know how the roommate arranges the pillow, whether they both keep the door far from their heads. She wants to lace her last wisps of contentment into a veil. And still she feels regret when, before sunrise, the molecules start to steady. Some mornings, she refuses. She lies still, her limbs open, and slowly finds something flowing, a breath. She summons the river stones from blank air. Cold on her forehead and her mound, the moss curled with her hair, the mud weighing down her bones. There is a fog pulling her notice, but she’s imagined the wrong things before, and always, interruptions, the steel saw, the eggs. She would rather her lone body on the bunk, pulling from her cunt a vine of berries and then the clear stream pool where she’ll rinse them, where she’ll float into nectar, and the more of this, the more she wants to see.

Praise for White Wedding:

White Wedding is an erotic landscape of one woman’s own diligent making; blessedly, blissfully turned from the drudgery of moral comment, laying a bold claim on female sexual power. Straightforward and unblinking, with an ambition suiting its style. Fans of Kathy Acker and Jan Wolkers take note.”
—Amelia Gray, author of Gutshot

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