Restoration

“Following further investigations, including tests in an archaeometry laboratory, it was discovered that layers of binding agent and a layer of dirt existed between the image of Cupid and the overpainting. The conservators concluded that several decades would have passed between the completion of one layer and the addition of the next and therefore concluded that Vermeer could not have painted over the Cupid himself.” 

Statement issued by the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden, Germany, upon unveiling Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl Reading Letter at a Window’ fully restored to reveal a previously-hidden painting within the background

back-bent dedication lingers

over minutest detail,

flecked upon a scalpel’s edge

scraping back the trauma of decades

and a different generation’s shame

until painstaking years recover, at last,

brightly togged and hopeful:

love’s plum-ripe promise.

~eai

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Fracture Mechanics

Pilots don’t talk. 

Pilots only yell. 

ROGER TOWER CLEAR TO OPTION OVER – NEGATIVE CONTACT ON VISUAL – SKYHAWK ONE NINER FOXTROT CHARLIE TANGO ON APPROACH

A full year of Saturdays spent in the air, and this is what the girl has learned. (Not that she hadn’t heard yelling before.)

But maybe if the pilot wasn’t wearing an enormous headset. Maybe if she wasn’t wearing earplugs. Maybe if the airplane’s single front propeller wasn’t so loud it makes her tummy queasy and even the drugs her mom makes her swallow each time before takeoff don’t stop the airsickness so finally she starts wearing earplugs as the only thing that lets her fly without vomiting into a bag.

Maybe if the pilot wasn’t her dad.

Or if she had chosen to be here, or could choose to leave. 

Even if she could just understand what lesson this weekly punishment with the plane and the shouting and the long silences is meant to teach her—or at least when it will stop, when she will finally be seen as having learned her lesson enough to go home—maybe then she might be learning something more than shouting.

SKYHAWK ONE NINER FOXTROT CHARLIE TANGO

CLEAR

CLEAR

CLEAR

But, she thinks, also maybe not. 

Continue reading “Fracture Mechanics”

Awe

Brief meditation on the current news and the nature of survival. (Heads up for topic of sexual assault/triggering/Epstein.)

♦ ♦ ♦

Yesterday, I read the charges filed against co-defendents Epstein AND Trump for their numerous violent sexual attacks on the same 13yo girl in 1994. It was awful, but I’m used to awful—and the almost-clinical tone of most legalese is generally easier to get through than more evocative writing on the same subject.

And then there were a few words, a halfway-rendered visual image in my head. . . suddenly I’m dizzy, light-headed : my arms are burning : : it hurts to breathe : : :

More than 12 hours later, I still can’t say to you what those words were. Not that I don’t know, you understand. I am perfectly clear what tripped the trigger, but they are surrounded by a giant bubble of silence and darkness that threatens to pull me back in each time I reach to pull those words out.

I’ve been here before.

Maybe you have too. In which case, we both know we’ll be here again, at some unpredictable time.

Expectation of the unexpected.

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do rape survivors dream of electric grad school?

 

~a reading list I could have really used, back as a doctoral student~

electric grad school

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Constellation of Negative Life Outcomes Tied to Chronically-Misdiagnosed PTSD; Or: Why Write a Memoir When You Can Just Print Your Name on the Front of the DSM-5

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Pathological Overmodulation of Traumatic Memories, Associated Emotions, and Bodily Experiences in the Dissociative PTSD Patient: “I May Be Pathological, But Hey! At Least I’m Not Crazy” (a lit review)

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Schehera-who-now? 1,001 Nights of Managing a Narcissist’s Feelings in Order to Protect Your Own

Continue reading “do rape survivors dream of electric grad school?”

The Writer Dreams of Rivers

[CN: rape, self-injury]


winter-river

“Survivors understand full well that the natural human response to horrible events is to put them out of mind. They may have done this themselves in the past. Survivors also understand that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. It is for this reason that public truth-telling is the common denominator of all social action.”
–Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery

In a dream, I come across a toad in the woods. Squat, warty, with flat blank eyes. He belches up a stone that clatters over my feet. A ruby, I recognize when I bend over to look: big as my fist and red as death. I reach out to pick it up, to pop it into my mouth for safe-keeping, and grab the toad instead. I do not realize my mistake until I feel the toad sitting belligerent on my tongue, plumping up his blotchy abdomen to fill the space from my lips to my throat. When I look back for the ruby, it is already gone.

I wake up choking.

* * * * *

Most of the photos I have from my childhood live in a large document box, clustered together chronologically in clearly-labeled archival folders. My mother—trained historian and daughter of a news-photographer—made just such a careful box for each of us during the years after my grandfather’s death, merging countless stacks of inherited photos with her own files as she worked to organize his legacy. An inch into the box, in a folder simply labeled “GRADE 2,” one finds not photographs but a carbon-copy report typed onto two sheets of onion skin paper, preprinted with the words: CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.

I remember this report, even though I’d never read it until recently. Or, more precisely, I remember taking the tests that led to it.

And I remember Mr. Morley.

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In the Boneyard, Too, Bright Flowers Bloom

the heart that I hold...

“The heart I hold tightly within my chest, tightly holds me back.”

Three years ago today, I wrote these words. They became the title of what I consider this blog’s first true post: a manifesto defying the “Woman, be silent!” command I felt from culture and intimates alike, and claiming instead my right to stand in the middle of my own life and speak my own truths.

A tiny piece—less than 200 words in total—and the first appearance of real voice on my page in more years than I care to recall. “I finally wrote in my own voice!” I exclaimed to my therapist in a session that afternoon.

I was hella excited, to say the least.

[THEN:] “The art and the work and the words I am here to do have been buried by the aggressions of men. By the bodies of men. By the silencings of men. By the refusal of their eyes to see, and their ears to hear. By my own belief that had I only asked politely, respectfully, with clarity of vision and specificity of language: only then I would have received the gatekeeper’s permission.

“Only then would it be proper and permissible for me to seize my own heart and dance myself to exuberant annihilation upon the beaches of my own dreams, that heart clutched tight within my ribs, its steady thumping the pulse to which my feet move.”

Heart and bone. Silence and speech. The body in motion, and the bodies in gender.

Images and themes that have haunted my writing since forever ago yet dissolved into nothingness over time, given away with so much else in desperate exchange for another few years of constricted existence. Sacrificed to whatever vindictive god I felt pursuing me, his breath always hot and far too close upon my neck.

Last year I had the opening words embossed on a ring that I now wear like wedding jewelry, a constant visual reminder of my commitment and primary allegiance: self to self, soul to heart, present and past holding hands as I step (together as one) into the future.

Continue reading “In the Boneyard, Too, Bright Flowers Bloom”