Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mingus & Linguistics (kinda)

People use the word "harrowing" too much. They say, "I had to wait in line for fifteen minutes! It was harrowing!" Or they say "The traffic on I95 was totally harrowing today!" Perhaps "Ugh, the dentist! What a harrowing ordeal."

But we know not, reader, unless we've been initiated to the special world of pain, this: "deeply disturbing or distressing; grievous; a harrowing experience."

Special world of pain?

The nightmares of my nightmares. Spinning silken thread as from a spider. That which becomes caught on everything, an arm, a leg, dangling from hair. An abscess.

Dream with me - a bite, those two puncture wounds, teeth as though sharpened, the quick zing of electricity as the body registers a bite, a bite, a bite!

And no, reader, I won't divulge the animal, the biter; imagine possum or feral cat or raccoon or dog. Imagine those eyes you see lighting up in the night; imagine standing shock-still. Imagine the glow of after-pain as it dissolves your shudders to pitiful mewling.

A kitten like myself, nearing nine years, mewling, cowering in darkness, suffering the violence to my body, the spaces proving my violability.

Harrowing? No. Not yet.

Days passing and nothing amiss save steady burn of puncture.

So I slept, dreampt myself torture dreams; I was a young bride, excited for my wedding day, and careful men broke into my house, donning clean, white aprons, "we'll begin the interviews soon," they said in my dream, and I knew what they meant, which was that they meant to rape me, torture me, kill me.

Dreampt myself outside, alone. Flashing brilliance of passing cars and my bean-bag-body dragged across the pavement sudden and hot as midday.

Dreampt myself lost at sea. A speck of dust. A many-legged-creature smaller than a grain of rice. And I dreampt never-redemption, never-freedom.

Fever pitch of dreams until one day upon waking - a bump.

A bump, a bruise, a swatch of blood. Pain began to unravel the definition of harrowing for me. Began with its tendrils to caress my fevered neck.

And eyes rolling back in my head approaching MR who gentled me to sleep, who murmured something white-noise-ish, who grasped her own bedsheets and cursed, I think, although I felt safe enough to allow my mind to dissolve.

Distant shores. Shipwreck saved as parachutists gliding down dust motes winding tethers to my heart, my eyes, my teeth, breeze of warmth sluicing through me.

Warm water channel, warm water bath. Awaking the next day to my own stench. An abscess, so says the Internet, and pain like a thousand flowers blooming all-at-once-lavender.

Shock of warmth inside my eyes. Taken away in a carrier to a vet, knocked unconscious, upon waking made to wear this ridiculous shirt so that I would not further injure myself as though I had no means of my own to stay my quivering tongue which ached and ached to lick my sore open, a blossom.

And taken back to vet. Stitched closed like a blanket. Like a pillow full of feathers. Harrowing. The word tastes like brackish water. Slightly salty, hot, something stinging about it as it coats the inside of my throat.

And nightmares still but not like before. And pain but also not as before. Every night asleep with MR. Every night a lick on her hand.

Not that I feel I owe her, but she comforts me. Has pulled me free of shipwreck debris.

And I attempt anew to get outside, get to freedom. I brave bites and worse. Make oaths to myself I know I won't keep about cowardice. About lamentations.

Because now I know pain. Know the root of "harrowing." And therefore enough to know what I risk as I risk it. And I love my freedom so much I still reach and reach for it. Still dart to open doorways.

Because the animals stalk me yet.

And yet my heart yearns to bite them back.

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