Monday, June 25, 2012

since feeling is first

I was a cutter in high school, sort of. Sort of a cutter, I mean, not sort of in high school. I wanted to hurt myself, and I wanted to leave marks. But I didn't actually want it to hurt. I traced designs into my skin with a safety pin (the irony not lost on me, not at all), scratching over and over until the lines were red and swollen. Most of the time, I didn't draw blood. But by the next morning, scabs would form over the lines that I could "unsuccessfully" hide from the world.

In high school, I wanted to be a poet and a calligrapher, and one night I tried to write poetry in blood because I thought it would be cool. (Talk about pretentious, overwrought, angst.  Yikes.)  I made shallow incisions in my upper left arm and stuck the tip of my calligraphy pen in them. It didn't work very well, but the cuts scarred, more than anything else I'd done. The blood kept clotting in the pen, especially since I wasn't producing very much in my little cuts, but I managed to finish the line I was writing:

for life's not a paragraph

and death i think is no parenthesis

e e cummings

I would have been sitting on a beige shag carpet on the floor of my bedroom. (There were five exits from my bedroom: two windows that led to the roof, a door to the bathroom, which I didn't share with anyone, a door to the closet, which was really a short hallway into another small room, just big enough for my twin mattress and some books, and the door to the rest of the house. I named the little room at the end of the closet Edgar, and slept in it most nights. My boyfriend went down on me in Edgar but I wasn't really into it and then I wrote a poem about the experience for English class. I don't know why that matters.) I was writing in blood on plain copy paper, the kind that my mother the accountant bought in 5-ream boxes. I might have been listening to music. The Cranberries, or Nine Inch Nails, or REM.

I keep thinking about the copy paper. And the carpet.

Later, I began to try harder to hurt, and less hard to show, although I still took a grim pride and pleasure in leaving marks. I would hit the tops of my thighs with my fists, which didn't really do much, either for causing pain or leaving marks.  Sometimes I would hold a pair of metal scissors, handle down, and pound the handle into my legs, which was more effective on both counts. It never made nearly as spectacular a bruise as when I was climbing over my mother's car in the garage and slipped and banged the outside of my thigh against the bumper. That left a huge mess of green and purple and people worried that my boyfriend might be beating me. I was jealous of that bruise, because I could never manage to do it myself.

I was thinking about this, lying on my stomach with Kris scratching lines into my legs with an ink-filled needle. When I washed my legs for the first time, after, the water ran dark with blood and ink. I am still writing other people's poems in blood.

I am making new cuts to cover up the memory of old cuts. 

(Or maybe it just sounds good to say so.  I'm a sucker for pretty words.)

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a far better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
--the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

No comments: