47.2 - Spring 2018

Page 96

How is it different for you than drawing with a pencil? I ask. For one thing, Thad begins, a pencil stops when pressed against a sheet of paper. This answer gives me pause. I am compelled; I am afraid. I reel my mind back from its customary wandering—association, definition. This takes effort. The effort seems well worth it. What I mean is this: for once, it seems wiser not to wonder what a needle does when pressed. Soon, it becomes difficult to separate the literal sensation of the needle from the sound. Sever what is happening between the epidermal and the dermal layers of my skin from that telltale clatter in my ears—mechanized and violent, like an electric sewing machine mated with a lawn mower. I lie there, face upturned towards the silvery aluminum, and try—before the feeling grows familiar, before the shock of newness dissipates—to find the words for what it feels like. I try to do away with hearsay associations [like what B had said—it’s like a bunch of little beestings], keep my mind from drifting into worry, into tangents, and stay present with my skin, my nerves. Every pinch and tingle. I watch Thad’s blue-gloved hand in my periphery. I try to notice what he smells like, but I can’t. Even with him leaning over me, his body so close to mine, the Dettol and the wood-sweet incense and the musk of my own perfume-muddled sweat have taken over. Instead, I will the sound, the whirr, to leave my consciousness. I recall being a little kid in school: drawing on my hands, with ballpoint pen. And I realize, in fact, that’s exactly 88

PHOEBE


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