Monday, September 29, 2008

The day the stock market crumbled, I took off work to go to the doctor for my bum leg. He marveled at my flexibility, my quotidian contortions literally raising the eyebrows and octave of this sixty-something seasoned orthopedic specialist. For the pain he gave me a cortisone injection in my left hip and some prescription anti-inflammatories. The shot is burning its way through my thigh like sizzling grease.

During the four and a half hours I was there, I managed to read Galway Kinnell's Book of Nightmares. It hurt to read. It suffocated my heart in twine. A fantastic, critical, earnest, and almost winsome meditation on the interconnectedness of death and love. It wants to live in my throat forever. Jesus. What else does anyone write for?

And what is all this writing for? What good are the hundreds or thousands of pages that exist in ones and zeros, that no one may ever buy? That no one may ever read? Medicine has improved but the doctors still say no surgery exists that will fix my knees. They are shaped too strangely, sculpted to keep me lame unless I wear Forrest Gump braces. What good is being a twenty-six-year-old woman with contraptions on your scarred gams?

Some days I think I will not be able to get out of bed. I have done that before, when I was young and dumb. Spent days in the bed skipping class and work because of the Dread. Sometimes I think I will do that again. That all this hopelessness will just be too much for me, and I'll lose all the baby steps I've gained.

I remember once a boy I said I loved told me there was no future in writing. That I would end up penniless on the streets. A crackwhore, I believe, was his precise choice of diction. He went into investment banking. This is so not Buddhist, Christian, or even mature, but I hope he lost his shirt today.

Hard to care about Wall Street on a day like today. Cortisone searing my hip-sockets, no promise of any kind of future except for about a billion people I love so much it hurts, and one I love even more, that scary kind of love, that kind that keeps you awake some nights with the heat and fragility of its breathing. I remember once, turning twenty, lying in bed and crying, and when my mother asked what I wanted out of life, I said, "I want to live in a house and write and make pasta for all my friends." Last night all my friends ate my pasta, so aren't I the the successful one after all?

This ache is so much more pervasive than any stab in my leg. People are just pain machines, it seems, sometimes. Pain must have been invented with us only. With the awareness of dust attracting dust comes the cancerous question: How have I ever taken for granted for one second anyone I have loved?

But we do, of course, in the end. If we did not, we would not be human.

Can it ever be true --
all bodies, one body, one light
made of everyone's darkness together?

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