“The body remembers, the bones remember, the joints remember, even the little finger remembers. Memory is lodged in pictures and feelings in the cells themselves. Like a sponge filled with water, anywhere the flesh is pressed, wrung, even touched lightly, a memory may flow out in a stream.” ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes
I love this quote. I believe that it summarizes in two sentences what I have spent nearly 200 pages trying to describe.
There is a very intimate link between memory and the body. As a writer, I’ve used my body as a canvas, absorbing its experiences, subjecting its touches and rhythms to verse in a dramatic attempt to analyze and realize the greater meaning of it.
My body is a map, a brilliant novel within which I carry with me, everything.
Consciously, I exist only in the present moment. Beyond this moment, I am nothing more than a scattered collection of memories. Beyond the present, I exist only in memory. If I was unable to remember, I would cease to exist.
These fragments of moments and experiences twist within my imagination. They leave their mark upon my body. They connect. They merge. They conspire. That scar on my shoulder, the slight catch in my right hip, the curvature of my arms and hands – memory ingrains itself within my flesh as though it were, flesh, a way of reaching back and touching myself in time.
As my memories connect and collide with my inspired fictions, my body also exhausts itself upon the page. This is not mine, but it is me.
This is abstract. But I can’t be bothered with abstractions. My body makes them real, makes them possible as they are, as they persist.
I experience the world through language and translate that language within. I turn it inside out, transform it, until the very cells of my body consume it, assume it. Perhaps this is the art of writing that I have failed to grasp – the need to live language, to realize it within every fiber, to absorb its touch and keep it, like an imprint.
I researched questions of the body and of memory. I even wrote a long paper, dissertation style, on the language of trauma, how trauma touches or imprints a body and how the process of writing can bear witness to this touch and inspire healing.
As a writer, I’m no longer fascinated by the ways in which the body inspires art. I’m enthralled at the way that arts becomes our bodies, how the lines we carve in the world around us reflect back and leave their marks upon us, physically. Just as I can see my grandfather’s eyes in mine, find my mother’s complexion, and my father’s nose, just as I can narrate my past and create my presence through the stories they’ve left scattered across my body, I can also create from this present the possibility of a new future. I do not carry language or memory. I become it. Every cell and every atom like a novel, re-imagining this moment as it carves a place for me within it.
To leave with a quote:
“Years later, walking, in the freezing London cold, I went into a Turkish school for immigrants, to warm my hands. I sat on the windowsill in a room high above the canal: looking down, I saw a woman bicycle past, a cello strapped to her back in its black case. It resembled the carapace of an insect about to rupture its shiny skin. I should have seen my future then, in the way that woman carried what she loved along the length of her spine: her home/kept moving” – Bhanu Kapil