the weight of bodies

Posted on April 6, 2013 by Val |3 Comments

something from a while ago:

i once heard my neighbor screaming for help. i finally located a pair of feet sticking out from under his Chrysler. a disturbing resemblance to the wicked witch. the tire jack akimbo. his chest pinned between oil pan and concrete. but a small consolation in the angle of the tipped jack; not utterly crushed, just utterly pinned. with enough air for the screaming. the screaming mad. indignant really. we called 911 even though he told us not to, and the fire department came. they levitated that car off him with their impossibly powerful hydraulics. proud with the strength that men have in their tools. we all feel a bit stronger when we are not pinned under cars. and believe we never will be.

how can a car be so agile and responsive to the slightest touch at 70 miles an hour and an implacable mountain after it has landed on us? Zeus’s finger pressing down ever so slighting on the roof. its dead rubber and steel probing into the softest watery tubing of us. and we cannot ever ever possess the strength needed to lift it. budge it. you cannot budge a car upwards. you cannot. it is dead weight. it is weight beyond caring.

i am reminded occasionally that things actually exist. and not just because i think they do. i could never remember the kind of detail required to create the world every day. the cracks and the cheese puffs and the wars. it looks as if we are in and part of, the world. and sometimes heavy shit falls on us. and crushes our guts. and this is not always just an opportunity to grow. or a metaphor. or an idea. sometimes, even when we are deep in thought, the world is full of rocks and water and teeth.

when animals die they become so heavy. i have lifted stiff cats and calves. the leg bones of bulls. the hand of a woman who had been my lover. it is uncanny the way the formerly living have of making us feel burdened. left behind with a body that does not recognize us anymore. and somehow we inherit all the worries. little birds flitting around the hawthorne tree.

when my dog does not wish to be moved off the bed she employs a form of passive resistance i like to call “the slinky”. her little 20 pound self becomes a near 8 foot according of slippery water weight. and in case i were misreading her cues, she will often growl her displeasure. she becomes the sort of thing one would only like to move with a large spatula.

could it be we instinctively fear the weight of death? or the silence? the sincerity? is it possible one of the trillions of things encoded into our dna is a natural fear of the formerly animate? or maybe even the fear of those who could, at any moment, cease animating? i get that sometimes. i am rudely revealing the horrible weakness in the whole system. how breathtakingly easy it is to fall prey to the weight of the body. succumb to gravity’s siren song. to fall down and dissolve.

make way and make room people. we are crowded. time is a bird bath and we all want to get wet.

  1. I have dreams that come to pass. Sometimes they are mundane moments – a snip of conversation with Cynthia while stretching in the parking lot after a run in forest park; a dinner with people who, when I dreamed it, hadn’t all met, in a city I hadn’t known I’d be visiting. But they make me pause, notice, pay attention.

    I have dreams I wish would come to pass. Top on the list, the long conversation I had with a hummingbird while it hovered in the air in front of my face, speaking its complicated hummingbird language, its thin tongue occasionally visible. I understood perfectly. I’m looking forward to that one.

    And I’ve dreamed my own death three times – that I can remember, anyway. I especially hope the first of these does not happen – driving my car off the Fremont bridge with Cynthia in the passenger seat. My nervousness about this is twofold: we do this often, and she had a bridge-plunging dream as well. Or so I thought – when I asked her about this recently, she clarified that in her dream we drove off a cliff, Thelma & Louise-style. This is small reassurance.

    In the other dream I’ve had, I suddenly collapse in my massage room, fall to the floor thinking, “NO!” and then, “well, Pat (a frequent client & a cop) is coming. He’ll know CPR, he’ll get help fast”..Though I’ve not told him about this dream, he seldom comes in any more. We’ve transitioned to catching up by phone, or over coffee. I can’t say I mind.

    Because it’s this dream I hope for: I’m in a room full of people I don’t know. I’m dancing alone. We’re all dancing alone. And there’s a mirror off to the side. It’s one of those free-standing, oval mirrors with a maple frame, or maybe oak. A bit of fancy scroll work at the top and base. One of the other dancers turns to me and says,” you can turn your matter into light”.. I stop dancing to look at this man with a black ponytail, turn, and without thought or hesitation, step into, through the mirror. And dissolve. My molecules fan out away from me, an explosion of silver stars. It feels like each cell, each molecule has been strained through a sieve, caressed by an unimaginably loving hand. It was the most intense orgasm ever; an exploding dissolution. The big surprise was the waking-up-part. Surprise: (I didn’t die?) Relief: (I’m alive!) Disappointment!: (I’m alive.)

    My friend Emily, who is a nurse, has seen the dying’s last exhalation as a grey, funnel-shaped essence. And her mother’s last breath? Her essence zoomed the room and swept out the open window shouting, “wheeeee”…

    These things help me be less fearful of the moment of death. I can’t drop it completely; it’s the big unknown, the last mystery, the secret we all keep.

    But what I hope for? For you, for your mom, for myself? A step through the mirror.

    (but first
    please.
    that
    hummingbird)

  2. how can each new thing you post feel like the first best thing i’ve ever heard you say? you are wonderment to my heart.

  3. Laura said it for me. Sometimes it’s hard to take in everything you say as you say it so beautifully I get distracted by the words themselves. I have to read it all twice. Three times. And then you’re in there. Love. love love love.

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