972: Light Upon The Body
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 chimed.
"Light Upon the Body" by Alison Braid. Used by permission of the poet.