I Was Wild, Savage, Human

Red is soothing (to me). The same is true of sex, laughter, creative ripping (paper or fabric), and of reading and writing containing the aforesaid bits. So, when my flesh and bones hurt so bad that sleep is an unbelievable dream that could only happen to extremely lucky fictitious characters, I call on red and we go wild.

I’ve been in ridiculous pain for a few days. The throbbing started under my left scapula, then it spread to my left hip, my left gluteus maximus (I’ve always loved that word), the back of my left leg… all the way to my toes *red, red, red*.

Still, I’m not unhappy. I’ve had moments when I was angrier than a mantis in heat who has just discovered he is a male, but not unhappy. I’ve written a lot of fiction, stitched several poem bits, and blacked out (red-out?) seven or nine pieces.

There were tense moments when I cursed Comfort (in creatively ripped red):

Another time, I crafted a blackout poem that is all sex (joy and sweat and screams and bliss-filled old lies howled out of pleasure-drunk-panting lips):

Earlier, when pain made me shake and shrouded my all in chills, I laughed (crying cackle-coated tears), lay on the bathroom floor—cool tiles *and the right book* are such a blessing… Then, after Laural Merlington finished narrating the 3rd chapter of A Stroke of Midnight, I dragged my flesh and bones to my writing space, and with hands that barely shook, I red-out a note about Pain and Me:

*the background is from Vampiros, illustrated by Meritxell Ribas Puigmal*

Things are better. Some of my bits are still screaming. But something tells me that tonight, I’ll kiss the Sandman on the mouth… and will both like it.

Nature Is Therapy

I was in the hospital courtyard collecting fallen leaves, and comparing their colors to a blackout poem bit I had just finished, when another patient asked what I was doing.

“Required therapy”, I told her without looking up from my work.

She watched me for a few seconds, then said, “You pick leaves for therapy?”

“Sure,” I mumbled. My needed therapy involves any activity that exercises my fingers, wrists, shoulders, posture, eye-hand coordination… I should’ve said that to her, but I wanted to find the perfect leaves before having to go to my next appointment, and she was distracting me.

I sort of wanted to get rid of her quickly. But she was as persistent as I was exasperated. In the end, showing her what I meant as I did it took less time than giving her the slip. This is how I explained it to her (without the glorious illustrations):

To me, therapy is anything that rehabilitates, heals and entertains mind, body and spirit. The act of coloring a page can be soothing, even mind-healing (depending what one is coloring), but this activity alone doesn’t offer much physical exercise. This is the reason why the presentation of my blackout and handwritten poetry has become more elaborate—I walk the woods (or hospital courtyards *grins*) to collect materials, then use specific movements to complete each piece, while imagining the parts as a whole.

Some might not think of stitching or ripping paper by hand as very complex work, but when the hands doing the ripping and stitching are half-numb, well… complexity joins the party whether one wants it or not. The controlled movements require patience and dedication. And this is just the mechanics, the real mind-healing (for me) is shaping the visual piece in a way that it doesn’t just echo the words, but also amplifies the message.

Take the following piece, as an example (it includes some of the leaves I collected that day… while I spoke to the woman):

I used a quote I shared on Instagram, from “The Pretty Corpses of Flowers”. The words are handwritten on a recycled coffee filter. The brown marker I used to blackout the poem bit made me think of autumn… So, I gathered leaves to match that feeling, nature that says to me that Healing doesn’t always come in bright colors or smooth textures.

Can your eyes feel the roughness of the paper? The wrinkles that seem to chant, “I’ve been around… brewed coffee that made someone happy… and I’m still going strong”?

Can you appreciate the beauty of the blemishes that make these leaves unique?

It’s not just the exercising of hands with coloring and stitching and ripping of paper, or the soothing of mind by finding bits of life within living poetry, prose, leaf… It’s all of it, dancing together. It’s the soul healing flesh and bone with art that feeds hearts through the eyeballs. It’s human daring denying pain the chance to shroud life with ugliness. It’s my Self baring her teeth, naturally… and delighting every time others join in the baring.

What about you, my Wicked Luvs? What’s your therapy? How do you dance with it?