Growing Up, Things I Can

51. Things I Can Rearrange: The Parts that Remain

What they learned is that the jellyfish heal themselves by swimming. As a wounded jellyfish struggles to move through the water with its remaining limbs, its muscles contract and relax. This movement creates forces that push on the body’s elastic, jelly-like material, reshaping it until the limbs are once again evenly spaced.

– Nell Greenfield Boyce, National Public Radio, June 15, 2015

She began by cursing
the one who was sitting closest
when the ache came bristling up
like bull thistle invading the raw acre
of her name,
deaf to the suggestion
that correlation is insufficient grounds
for blame. It hurt
to move.

A doctor then
coached her in probing
the thorny soil
with her arms wrapped in sackcloth
and her feet dangling
several inches above
the earth. Digging stripped the music
from her fingers.

A quest then
beguiled her to scale
a cliff abrading with every grip
that gained her purchase
and she maybe saw the promised petroglyph
or was it northern lights
before the trail slipped off
the map. Blisters boiled over
each of the five senses
leaving scars.

A clan then
promised her walls to place
eyes and the bones behind them, to wake
to a face she’d recognize
anywhere so long as where falls within
the proper dimension. She splintered
her teeth
on the doorframe.

A child then
a fight then
a task then
a loss then
it hurt to move

Alchemy then
whispered the sorcery
of conversion and she listened and called it
work, animating metaphor and
fusing symbol to object
until the fetal wings she was sure were the source
of the ache finally split
wide her scapulae and unfurled

Lifting an eddy of sloughed skin,
pollen and fallen leaf
before slumping then
going limp.
It hurts to be

exactly this.

A turning then
lurches her
into the shape left by the pain
which happens to be the only one of her
that remains
happens to be all
she is.

What we learn is that the wounded heal themselves
by moving.

In this broken skin
we walk

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