My hips are narrow and hard like a boy's. The white skin pulls thin over the muscles; when I twist my body, one muscle pulls a long hollow all the way across my hip. I never understood hips, what or even exactly where they were, though I knew the womanly hip was supposed to be a desireable entity from occasional soft-core pornographic passages in novels (I remember the phrase, "churning hips"). My hip was an indeterminate straight stretch connecting my stomach to my legs. There was nothing there to linger over.

I wrote a paper for my seventh grade World History class about the early statues of the ancient Greeks, a regiment of stiff dignitaries, their hair in rosettes that looked like Danish pastries. They stood with one foot awkwardly advanced, marching out of history, buttocks clenched, holes bored for pupils: a nordic brotherhood, bleached white. The early ones were porous and worn, pitted like corncobs, their muscles more sketched than sculpted by a few straight slashes across the torso. One of the few featured muscles in these simpler years was a marked bulge over the crest of the hip bone, and it perplexed me. I couldn't find that muscle on my own body, which was in other ways a lot like the slim teenage boys' the Greeks idealized. The next year, a friend and I invited ourselves into the pottery studio at the university and huddled together at one of the tables, making identical naked men out of red clay, outstretched flat like corpses. I incorporated the ancient Greek muscle, pleased with myself, sure my man would be realer and more complete than my friend's man. But when I showed her my finished work, she made fun of me; I had sculpted a little penis, but left out the balls. I had known there was some complicated business down there, but I wasn't sure if there was a real thing there with a definite shape, or just an unsignifying mess that you might leave out, for clarity. Hot-faced, I copied her work. Adding the balls made me guilty and ashamed. I felt high-minded about the penis: the ancient Greeks certainly knew about the penis. The penis was a simple, legendary fact, and to leave it out would be infantile. But the balls had no mythological status; they were smut. To include them was a sign of dubious knowledge, first, and prurient interest, second. We hid the men in the back rows of the drying racks, behind the pots. I was glad to distance myself from them, go outside to cool my burning cheeks.

I have a small mole on my right hip, from which two springy dark hairs grow, shaved off whenever I shave my legs, though I don't otherwise shave my upper thighs. Across my hips at the widest point are pale striations with a faint sheen to them, like a crochetted net just under the skin, like the cream curdling in coffee, just a little, and collecting into pale skeins. Though it is 'cellulite,' word that sounds like the brand name for a packing peanut, and makes me think of dank dressing rooms and curdy flesh glimpsed under a slipped towel, it is beautiful, like the brindle in a tabby cat's coat. Of course, it is also strange and worrying, like all things that turn up late in the day. I sanguinely thought I could avoid change by unremitting emanations of my will, a steady, comforting glow I could bask in my whole life, a tadpole in a puddle. The rays would melt off anomalies and excrescences, pits and bumps; I would keep the body I had as a kid, which was entirely malleable, almost boneless, uncharted and unrated, neither good nor bad, but springy and invisible like an angel's.