Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Conditions of the Lease

A deep breath. My ribs lift: I know that the muscles of my neck and back are hauling them upwards, but I've seldom been able to make that real in my mind. In my imagination it's the air itself rushing in, making room for itself, straining against the limits of mere biology. It's the spirit opening up, the soul of the world finding its way to mine. When I meditate, I follow the breath, and stop holding on so tight to this raft. I don't need to worry: I'm not going anywhere. I am sewn into this body. The stitching and overstitching is a clotted scribble of thread, so dense that it obscures the fabric.

Or you could reverse it, and imagine new limbs opening, wings spreading from the scapulae, a second set of long slender arms anchored at the lumbar vertebrae, with quick sure fingers blossoming from the wrists: fingers for feeling one's way, not for grasping. And meantime antlers growing from the acromia in sharp, graceful curves. My feet, freed by my wings from their pedestrian duties, recover their grasp, the toes growing out and over, the big toes becoming thumbs again and swiveling beneath, the nails becoming long razor claws. I could sidle up the wall, or perch on the back of a chair, with my needle toes sinking easily in the flesh of the upholstery. One claw plenty to stand on: the other ready to strike, or to seize.

This business of being an animal: we're in danger of forgetting how strange it is, used as we are to our standard equipment, lulled by the deceptions of clothing and cameras. If our noses were to burst into stars of extraordinarily sensitive feelers, if our thighs and shoulders developed pits for seeing infrared, if we could coil in on ourselves and bury our heads in the loops of our breathing flesh, we might remember, for a little bit, how odd the conditions of this lease really are.

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