A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.

15 Oct

Left arm, upper. That fleshy bit just underneath the tattoo of a cicada, memory from a faint sweaty September.

If you pay attention, if you look hard enough, there's faint lines, the pathway of a year of chaos, of discovery, of change. Of being 17.

Anyone who has never cut will never understand the release it brings. I never did it after that day, scared perhaps by the flighty pleasure it brought me, or maybe the indelible mark it left on me, on my body, rapt. You should have seen me then, fishnets, black dress so short I blush to think of it, clinging to a body I either never had, or I had in disbelief. My rough black boots, tight against the callouses that replaced the blisters I had walked through. Hard cropped black hair against my head.

Twas all about the black that year, if I remember correctly. A year to shed, to mourn, to release. It was so entirely predictable-girl loses mother. Girl gets on a bus and run away. It felt like running away, boarding a bus to somewhere, knowing that somehow, life would detour and you'd find someone standing in your sun outside a northern town as you waited for the next part of the route.

And it did, and months later, I found myself dancing around the cluttered room I rented with a friend's parents, listening to black metal and slicing my arm in tiny slivers. The blood would bead around the blade as I pressed it further in, until I could feel entirely that little pop, the moment of exposure, and I could feel again.

If you had asked me then I would have told you I scarred myself purposefully, leaving a lasting reminder of where I had been, of a moment in time, the chipped white paint on a tall dresser, the small closet my life was crammed into, the stash of hash on the windowsill next to Bob the spider plant. I would have said it was a legacy, a time capsule.

Maybe it was. Maybe it was a release, the slow leak of ache.

Or could be, I was 17, and high, and just slicing open my skin because I could.


It's almost gone, this scar, blending in finely with the ruddiness of my skin, the tan left fading from a scorched summer. You'd have to squint to see it.

The past in a rear view, receding.

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2 Responses to “A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.”

  1. hodgepodgeandstrawberries October 16, 2010 at 7:17 am #

    I’ve never cut and I have always wondered about it. I still can’t say I understand it but for one instant while I read this I got closer to understanding than I have before.

  2. bipolarlawyercook October 16, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    I have thought about cutting at various younger points in my life and shrunk away from the actual doing– my hand shaking too much on the knife/exacto blade to get the grip that I need– and instead I repress, repress, repress, and here I am instead at 35, whoever I am as a result.

    I never, ever, tire of the way that you write and how, with such perfect, aching concision, you express what is and has been and can be possibly felt.

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