April 27, 2018


When I was eight, I tried to take a sparrow out of the mouth of my neighbor's Chow Chow.  His owners fed him raw steak on a regular basis to make him a bad-ass.  He was about to sit down and enjoy his prey, and I felt sorry for the bird, so I tried to pry it from his mouth.  The attack was swift and I only had time to raise my right arm to my face.  Thankfully, it was also brief, and he went back to his sparrow snack after a single warning lunge.  I stumbled down the street back home, dazed and dripping blood from my face and the puncture wound in my forearm from a sharp tooth.

Nothing hurt yet, but I was quite the apparition and was whisked away to the emergency room, where a doctor told my parents that if I hadn't instinctively raised my arm to shield my eyes, I would have lost my right eye.  I had a tear across the bottom and side of the skin under my eye, but no nerve damage.  They put in stitches and sent me home.

When the stinging from the stitched wound stopped, I cried for the bird.

I also wonder, sometimes, why I didn't develop a general fear of dogs afterward.  I wasn't reared on a farm and didn't have reason to have embraced, at that tender age, an acceptance of the tooth and claw of nature or a matter-of-factness about the brutality of the cycle of life and death, but I knew it was my fault for interfering with the dog's inclinations and that it technically was my fault, not his.  That's how I moved forward.

P.J. has some stitches from her recent dermatology procedure.  They're starting to itch.  They'll come out soon.

Last night, she held my hands behind her own back as I flailed in the tidal wave of another impulse to hit myself, talked me through it, soothed me.  My ragged breathing returned to measured breathing and I looked into her eyes and said, "I fucking hate being crazy.  Why can't they just find it and dig it out and put in stitches, so it could heal, and then it would be gone?"  But what stitches could ever stop a tidal wave?

It's been a rough week.  My mood chart looks like the graph of a lemniscate with some errors in the calculations.  The preoccupation is not gone; it has surged.  The tide is in.

The ocean brings life and death.  The tide recedes and pulls under, creeps and claims, covers bare feet with foam and deposits debris.  It holds most nature in the world and the only thing I can do is accept tooth and claw, accept brutality.  Sometimes, there will be tidal waves.  Sometimes, there will be a beautiful sunrise and ripples of light on the surface of the water.  It conspires with the moon.  Sometimes, I will be prey.  I will be powerless.

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