972: Light Upon The Body

20231009 SD

972: Light Upon The Body


I’m Major Jackson and this is The Slowdown.

My relationship to my body changed after I became ill during the pandemic. I felt, more than ever, my mind functioning separate from my body, as though endowed with its own agency, vulnerable to the environment. I sat in bed with my laptop, used tissues riding the wave of my comforter, researching my symptoms. Mentally, I processed every ailment, in the clearest of scientific terms — the chills and muscle aches down to my persistent cough. But my body was the authority which experienced these symptoms and followed the curve of healing at its own pace.

That separation of mind and body made me consider pursuing holistic recovery, adding aspects of healing I had previously overlooked. In addition to the medication that treated my physical symptoms, I sought to take care of my mental and emotional ailments, too. In between long bouts of sleep, I meditated on a favorite passage of poetry. I made a slow walk around my backyard, and listened to music that instigated reflections of my more vibrant self. I spoke to my body; good morning lungs, how you doing today? Since then, I have embarked on and, gratefully, sustained a deeper level of self-care and stewardship.

Today’s poem speaks a truth about bodies. Illness, occasionally, makes them seem like their own entities; they speak the languages of pain and discomfort that need translation into a music. Music that ushers us back to familiarity and recovery.

Light Upon the Body
by Alison Braid

Next to the mirror in the ferry bathroom was  a painting of two girls  on a hotel bed.
The room  was the green  I wished I saw  on the inside of my eyelids.  It was a green
that  said:  Interior.  How  did  green — a  colour  so  infrequent  to the  body,  sign of
sickness and disease—look so warmly internal? That was the mystery the painting
told.  Sliced open  at the head of the bed was a watermelon baring its softest pink.
Looking at it, I was nostalgic for the self before the pain, not this glassy storefront
version  of me.  Over  the  tinny-sounding  speakers  came  a song  that  seemed to
illuminate  the fact that  music is noise.  What  a wonder,  I said  aloud to the empty
stalls,  to  make noise  sound like noise.  I wanted  to describe  the pain  I felt  in the
same illuminating way. The music petered out. Just standing here, I had faced two
miracles and remained intact. My body seemed the last mystery to answer. Pain in
the  body  had  no image.  No  outline.  My  body  was in  my head.  My  body  was my
head.  My body was  shaking off  the rust.  My body  had grown just a little bit.  Had
walked through sound and sharp objects.  My body was dialogue and forgiveness.
My body  spelled  out desire.  Spelled  out  coincidence.  My  body  was cosmic and
grand.  My  body was  my body.  My  body.  My  body.  I was  ice  in the  tumbler of my
body  and  amber  liquid.  Held  in the  bathroom mirror,  I  chimed  and  chimed  and

"Light Upon the Body" by Alison Braid. Used by permission of the poet.