Monday, April 20, 2009

In a Continuum Class that I took a few months ago, one of the other participants- the wife of the leader in fact, said that before Continuum, she had felt like a walking head that happened to be attached to a body. She felt disconnected from her toes and her fingers and her legs and arms and the cellular makeup of her skin and blood and bones. As it so happens, I feel exactly that way myself. I put so much credence in words and thoughts and phrases and paper and computer screens and hard copies and leaflets and magazines and newspapers and blogs and facebook and deadlines and short story submissions and new releases and press releases and poetry and emails and snail mails and bills and documents and my living will and our tax return and cut-off notices and receipts and sticky notes and scratch pads and cookbooks and recipes and jokes and photographs and jpegs and calendars and planners and theatre tickets and parking tickets and the million and one works of art by my son and the million and one to-do-lists and floor plans of my husband and our combined and individual legacies of paper in paragraphs and sentences and phrases, it all gets in my head and I forget that I have anything attached to those rapidly moving fingers. Cuticles. Knuckles. Arms. Ankles. Toes. Ridges. Miles and miles of skin and organ and breathing masses of blood all contained within myself. So last night, I got in bed with my book and then I got back out and put the book down on the floor. I lit a candle and stood in the darkened room lit by a flicker. I touched my toes. I pulled my arms behind my back and over my head. I sat on the floor and arched my neck to the ceiling and saw the words that I've been eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner digested into the moving shadow of my body. Everything creaked like an unoiled machine. It's uncomfortable to remember bones but worse to forget. Everything I have ever done and known and lost is still contained within the memory of my flesh and most days it's easier to throw clothes over top of it all and bury my head in a book. But that can't work forever. Two days ago, at the edge of the river, I watched my son and his friends squish their feet and hands in the mud, smearing it up and down their legs and arms for the sheer pleasure- it seemed- of sensation and cool, wet earth- what grown ups pay hundreds of dollars for at the salon and massage parlor- something solid and mostly alive in full contact with their skin. I kept my shoes on and my pant legs rolled down, hesitant to engage in the elements below my neck. But I wondered abstractly- through talking and safety and admonishments- what I might be starving for in this anorexic relationship with the elements. Because truly, I am more ruled by the insistent coming and going of winter and summer and the terrible seduction of spring and fall than I'd ever care to admit. Even if I slam my door shut and black out my windows my natural rhythms are still magnetically yanked about by the moon. I can forget or ignore or deny or wrap my body in cloth like a mummy but it still will answer the call of its true master. And it ain't this screen.