Cutting My Nose Off Won’t Spite My Face

May March 4, 2017. In grad school I read Elaine Scarry’s fabulously provocative and thoughtful The Body in Pain; I remember being struck by her core premise: that physical pain “unmakes” language while other sensations (say, pleasure) are productive of language and narrative. Her work has important implications; part of her analysis argues that the inexpressibility of pain makes the fact of inflicting pain on others a use of illegitimate power.

From the deep to the mundane (and inexpressible)… for several years now I’ve had “sinus issues,” which is a very bland vocabulary to get at the fact that two to three times a month my sinuses rebel, producing profound, intense headaches–“migrainey”–that make it hard to think or do very much. Today is one of those days.


Cutting My Nose Off Won't Spite My Face

Days like this drive me to excavate my skull,
   drill holes that would drain
   and pop my pain like a bubble.
Surely there's a way to keep the skin around
    my eyes from melting.
Nothing. Works.

Days like this, some words flood me--
           pots of tea
             neti pot
                saline saline saline
sinuses burn pulse scream.

Other words escape and whining vibrations shadow 
    my sight.
No words. All blurs.
Ballooning need to cut my nose off,
to take the bits that do not fit
and discard them.
So I might fit back in my skin.

The body falls apart discordantly;
how is it that it fails itself so readily?
Where do I go when my body rejects me?

Trapped in the hollows of my head.
The pounding, aching hollows.
Banging, whimpering hollows.
Collapsing into sleep, perchance to dream,
hoping to wake into wholeness,
back into a body that welcomes me.

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