Today When I Rattle the Bones

This past week I’ve been checking my watch and thinking: yes, but what time is it “really”? It’s not that I am still on Canary Island time. I don’t think I was ever there, settled into a rhythm of any sort. I’ve been just feverish enough to excuse the complete absence of personal discipline for a while now. The week slid by with the days wobbling: up at 5, up at 9, up at 4.

I was counseling a student last week about setting up fences and frameworks to protect themself. Fence-building is something that I have been sort of good at for a long time now. But these days I feel like my life is being dismantled. Not in a horses-escaping-the-corral kind of way, but rather like the dissolution of my cells’ walls. Every organelle is quivering and vulnerable.

When I was in junior high, I spent my free time with colored pencils and cream paper, drawing cells with their organelles and endoplasmic reticulum…

Researchers believe that lithium performs quantum tunneling through cell barriers, allowing it to depolarize the neuronal membrane. This is a not-so-random fact.

I can’t help but feel that there is a meta-perspective just beyond my scope, from which my whole life makes sense. And something tells me that I am not supposed to have thoughts like these. They might line a slippery slope to conspiracy theories and religious epiphanies.

Or they might form a poem.

Dorothea Lynde Dix wrote during what was likely a period of manic depression (mixed state): “I cannot write – I ought not.” I have always felt like I understood what she meant. These thoughts, diagramed and articulated, conjure the black dogs that will rip your life apart.

I am a scattering of facts- banal facts. Random.

Who has the power to choose, to bother, to make sense of it – to validate your life’s story? You risk annihilation by writing it. You risk petrification – from a single perspective, even your own. This, too, is still death.

We spent our time becoming fiction based on fact. I am not sure that I really want conscious control of that.

There was a film clip that I shared with a colleague, thinking it would benefit our movement students. Two days later something in the video, which I can’t fully conceive, had finally tunneled its way into the sensation of a denatured memory. Now I have to leave the room when it plays.

I am aware that is a lot of words. Over-written. And overly-written.

Last night a scene from an episode of an old television series slowly dug into my mind: innocuous, then inexplicably sinister. My body clenched and I flew out of time – not back in time.

Sensations ripped from narratives but returned to the body.

But if I try to place the whens and whys of the pain, or try to unravel the terror from the fascination – finding a dispassionate perspective to see what must have, likely had been… well, I will never know. Meanwhile, it is there like a tiny edge of yellow wallpaper waving to be tugged free. Whatever this it is.

My shrink has a couch in her office. I assume that someone lies on it now and then. Sitting in the chair, I tuck a knee up to my chest and try to appear casual.

4 Replies to “Today When I Rattle the Bones”

  1. This writing of the self as a destructive force is an interesting (and frightening and sad) view to take of creation. I think it’s something I’ve only ever glossed over, though have referred to it often on my blog this year as self-censorship. Part of me thinks I should order all my draft poetry, all my notebooks, to be burned when I die, for fear (and knowledge) that something in there could break the people left behind. I suppose there’s a balance between how much life breaks us and how much we break ourselves. Perhaps that’s why it’s often best to let the past be a different and foreign place.

  2. Do you think that is really possible? To let the past be a different and foreign place? I think about that Eastern idea that the past is in front of us, the future behind – that there really. might be people who aren’t in the dark – who see clearly what is in front of them. If it holds them up.

    1. I don’t know, in truth. And I am confused about it. There is so much in my past that I don’t want to know, that I just want to dispose of, because it always carries with it the danger of stopping me from enjoying the present, from making the most of this precise moment, which in a way stops me from moving into the future. I try to be more accepting of the moment, of what it brings, and less and less forgiving of the past, not just my actions but (and often mainly) the actions of other people. And today I am trying to do just that – to make this present something that can cope with the future.


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