there isn’t a beginning here.
not because i am stingy with my startings, or ashamed, or coy.
i simply can’t give you what i’ve never found.
perhaps that’s why it’s taken so many months to come here again.
but a story must start somewhere, so i’ll give you a counterfeit launch from this harbor, and hope you overlook a dock propped up by tenuous connections, and a sea that swells and circles back, carrying us not beyond the horizon, but taking that horizon with us, a forever dawning and perpetual setting until it doesn’t matter any longer that there is no destination in sight, that there never will be.
do you feel the brine crusting on your skin? does the wind pummel your lips? can you hear the faint susurrus of fear in the bowels of the ship, in the gut that won’t calm? can your sight pierce the lowering clouds?
do you see?
are you there?
let’s create the wake.
an apt analogy, though unplanned, the act of tearing open the ocean, the gape, the wound we leave behind.
you see, i am that body. i am that water. i carry the cuts of my many tumultuous crossings, my sides flayed, the wide unfurling behind me the only indication of my course. and when i grow swollen and angry, when i roil and rise and seek to sink the ship that cleaves me, when i pound upon the prow and batter myself over and over and over and over and over against this vengeful vessel, i forget that i am also that boat. i am that knife. i am the stern churning, the unforgiving blade that slices deep and keeps going.
i am the body. i am the blade.
i am self-inflicted.
indiscernible now, faint and faded and flush to the adjacent skin, there are no ridges to remind me of their once-weeping. no troughs to stall the fingers of a casual caress. the scars are kept only in my memory now, of nights, of knives, of first incisions, of being careful not to slice too deep, of parting the flesh, of parting from the pain as it slid itself away down my body, the only release i could control.
my hand. my choice.
is it better if i tell you it was self-defense? is it more understandable if i say it was the only way to survive the destruction other hands had wrought upon me? that i could somehow make sense of it only by becoming it?
do you feel the blood crusting on your skin? does the blade purple your flesh? can you taste the iron fear in the heaving of your stomach, in the scream that won’t be silenced? can your sight pierce the blanketing fog of shame?
do you see me?
are you with me there?
now cast if off.
because i have. i’ve been becalmed for many years.
i carve myself in words upon a page now. i slide the sharp joys into myself, as deep as i can, and revel in the marks they leave behind. i handle the hilt with the deft grace of one grown accustomed to such letting.
i open myself with the long edge of life, and welcome it all in.
i am self-mended.
and i’ve always just begun.