Where Memories Dwell.

The Elephant Ecosystem

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body memory 1

The world pushes and pulls and demands and divides, leaving us severed and fragmented.

Inhabiting the good body is to remember ourselves.

We return to our home, our wolf wild ways of knowing, our full range of motion.

It is a practice, a way of inhabiting time and space in this life. It is my own path of devotion, this listening with all my heart to experience seeking grounded ecstatic expression: skin memory, cell memory, bone memory, body memory.

The body has a voice.

I am learning to let her speak, opening my ear to the speech that shivers and shimmers in fullness of flesh. And when I do, she tells me stories about all the things that live here—in the body I call home.

The way it felt when I was sitting behind her and my head bent down to rest on her shoulder and my mouth pressed against her neck. This makes its home in the lower left chamber of my heart.

The way the el sounds, part clattering, part rushing and the neon sparks it makes at night when grinding across tracks. This lives in my stretched open shoulder blades, some kind of space made where contentment and belonging come and settle inside.

The feeling of flying lives in my serpentine spine, electric and attuned.

The way he still, every once in a while, reaches up when we are walking and grabs my hand, holding it for a few minutes, as if we can stop time and stay suspended—never forgetting. This lives in my lungs.

The night everything changed lives in locked knees.

The rows I used to count. The numbers in repetition. The lining up of things. The constant dread. The slats in the window blinds. The bricks on the side of the building. This resides in a loop of imagined wire that coils from retina to brain. And never completes but runs round and round, again and again, eyes burned opened and brain shaken with order, forever.

The injuries on my young body live in the tendons, the connecting tissue, the way it took all the pieces and permanently altered the way I would fuse myself and meaning.

When I sat in a crowded room, presented my thesis and spoke in my own voice. This can be found in my open throat, how I then understood that it was a muscle and meant to be used.

The memory of the morning and the elevator door, the sun on my skin. This makes the hip bone belong together.

The night he had a heart attack lives in my skinned knee, the blood that made a trail down my shin and how I did not know it was even there, my own skin broken up, until the doctor came out to the waiting room and asked me if I was okay.

The longing lives in the soft hollow between the clavicle bones, how sometimes, still, the missing her gets stuck there whenever I swallow.

The sound of my father playing the harmonica around the campfire late at night, once we were in the tent pretending to sleep. The way the sound of the harmonica playing gospel music found resonance with all the summer night sounds of insects and frogs and forests alive. This lives in my fingertips.

The memory of lost things lives in the rib cage.

The unspoken things live in the deep crease in-between my eyebrows, a groove in skin that my own hand reaches up to and touches, (how many times a day do I do this? ten? twenty seven? a hundred?) fingers pressing it apart, as if to release sound.

The night we kissed backstage, thick pancake make-up and crumpled costumes, and his complete surprise and my sense of wonder. This lives in the roped muscles, the strength of choosing to hold tight and to release.

The dancing. The fringe dress. The knotted hair. The heavy, the light, the wet, the lost in the night and found in the diner. The sense of possibility in the first time and first kiss and first chance, when eyes lock and you know they are smiling even without glancing down at the upturned mouth. The unanswerable questions. The way sometimes things and bodies fit. The soup brought when sick. The not having to pretend and saying what is real, and letting the rest take care of itself. The trust, that is what all of this is. Deep trust in myself. This lives in my large hands and inked skin, head upright, and pulse. The trust is found in my pulse.

The feeling of freedom runs along the inside and outside, lives forever in and on through my skin, soft to the touch, vulnerable to the knife, breathing and alive and how it knows. Dear god, it knows, what is real and love.

The fear of everything gone wrong lives in my jawbone, clamped, like you might have to smash it just to get it open again.

My hidden wholeness resides in the bottom lip, bitten.

The things I cannot forgive live in my inner ear drum, where things are converted, where there is vibration, the between the in-between, of air and fluid.

My love and devotion, my stories of choosing this instead of revenge or martyrdom or raged regret. Choosing the open and the broken, the relentless will to be alive. This takes up permanent residence in my thick heart, and the lines in my palms, and the arch of my back.

My secrets live in the crook of my elbow, that soft space of skin where the needle goes in.

The holding on lives in my veined wrists.

The letting go lives in the blood.

The taste of peaches with cream and sugar, early August, when I know again who I really am. This lives in the curve of waist and hip; occupies the pelvis, climbs the wall of my scarred back and settles into the softest skin behind the ear.

And you, your stories and your ancient knowing and your visceral voice and your memory half-forgotten but still holding on in the slips of paper with notes scrawled on them late at night.

Where does it live in your body?

 

 

 

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Author: Isabel Abbott

Apprentice Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photos: flickr

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

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Isabel Abbott

Isabel Abbott 
writer. activist. corporeal artist.
sanctuary in birth, sex, and death.
author of salt + honey: secular psalms for the human and hedonistic hearts. You can also find her at here.