47.2 - Spring 2018

Page 98

But this feeling, now, under the needle, is a different feeling. More satisfying, in the sense that I am trapped. Even as my mind is buzzing, looping, it returns right back again to this—to needle, Dettol, palo santo, skin. A tiny circuit, tight and hot. Nothing left to do but lie here, still, and feel it. The needle moves. It bites. It fills. Sometimes, I wince. Sometimes, I feel like I am getting a massage. Time passes. Sooner than I would have thought, Thad is putting the finishing touches on the reaching branches. I’m watching, and I’m feeling, and I’m thinking things about infection and erosion, about biting in, and wearing down. Now that it’s nearly over, I free myself to think beyond this: minute, hour, forearm, present. To consider depth, and pencils, paper—what Thad’s hands might feel like on my skin without those stupid plastic gloves. Or what would happen if the needle sunk too far: where it might land, and where the ink would go, and what’s beneath all this. Depth. The word suggests a destination. The surface of the ocean to its floor. Or distance measured, quantified—as in, the needle penetrates my skin to a depth of 1mm. Feelings can be deep: incomprehensible and tiny in their truths, like the strange affinity I felt with that dead bat beneath the glass when I stood close enough to see its jaw propped open in a death scream or a yawn, its tiny canines smaller than my half-moon Saturn finger scar. Depth is a gradation of color. Like the effect of rendering and shadow, the effect of light yielding to dark, gray ink to black, the knobby elbow of a branch made real as mine with the right contrast and intensity. Or else it is some darkness—some unknown thing inside that no one sees. My body, for example: underneath the skin, right now, as I am sitting up and 90

PHOEBE


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