reflections on surgery


I moved through the spring of my junior year as if in whiplash, neck and head shot forward, limp in the hands of the jolt, surfacing slowly through this pause and stale light. I haven’t always felt this mute and still: oceans of noise would reach me, glide feather-soft across my face only for me to nod them away, a kindly gesture to beggars as the car reels off.

I carried on in a dull way, – an effect part sleep deprivation, part disappointment – leaving half-hearted impressions of myself on people I’d already learned. Nothing seemed to shake me, there was no definitive moment from the slew that startled me awake, held me in place long enough to flatten itself into my memory as a definite event, something to be weighed and bronzed until it could be enshrined in a sort of humming permanence. This eternal performance spinning in black matter.

Nothing stuck with me, that is, except for my wisdom teeth surgery.

I don’t really know if pain changes you in the moment, shucks you out of your old skin and leaves you shivering and glossy in newfound understanding, but I know something of its after effects, how it pools out beneath every moment of complete freedom like the eyes of taxidermy. Here I am laughing, and there was the gauze soked with blood, my own fear recorded on the heart monitor. Strange to think that my body was drugged into numbing the incisions on my gums, drugged so as not to remember. Leaving me to wake up afterwards with a drowned soreness, like someone had frantically shouted my name centuries ago but I couldn’t remember who or why.

Now, it is spring of my senior year, and I still know nothing of the aches of my past. There had to have been a space, a skin, a universe for all of those old hurts, right? And yet I will never be able to re-learn the crests and folds of an old wound; the cellar-door, silhouette caught in the corner of my eye. There can never be  sharing of pain. A hurt, a wound, can only be known from the inside out, and only known by the host within its season, its gape and sound a shadow to ligaments and sinew. But now that the pain is out-grown

It is my senior year, and  I let days wash over me with my eyes wide open and I argue less, I’ve stopped trying to make excuses or create loopholes. I’m staring down the barrel of a gun, unflinching, calculating the width of the bullet and the pinhole of skin it will dive through.

And yes, there will be the loud crack and then, of course, the bullet, tearing through skin as precicely as an inhale. Exit-wound filling with a tide of blood.




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