Age: 17, Grade: 12
School Name: Nightingale-Bamford School, New York, NY
Educator: Maggie Tobin
Category: Personal Essay & Memoir
Consider the Body
I am obsessed with the body. With the idea of the body. With the body as a living thing. With the body as an object. I am obsessed with the body in motion. I am obsessed with the body as less than the sum of its parts. I am obsessed with the body aestheticized, with the body anesthetized. I am obsessed with the body unmeasured, the body Atwood never spoke of. I am obsessed with the body in the most literal sense of the word, in that I am full of it, that it is full of me; I am the foremost expert in the field of The Body. I eat the body for breakfast. I pray to the body. From the hands of the body comes thermal convection, come unseen currents, comes loss at the fingertips.
I am obsessed with the body in the mind of others, the body as an afterimage, the body through camera obscura. I am obsessed with the dissection of the body, the destruction of symbol; I am obsessed with the body ruined. (In third grade I learned how to stitch up a body by stitching up a banana.) I am obsessed with the body manipulated. I am obsessed with the parting of the flesh of the body unnaturally, bleeding, the spillage of the reality of the body. The divestment of the body. The inversion of the body. The punishment of the body, the cosmic horror of the body. The paper-cut becoming fount. The buried mechanical.
I am obsessed with the parting of the flesh of the body naturally, lips opening, the extrapolation of the body. The removal of the body as reality. The transitive property of the body. The ignorance of the body. The body fading fresco. The body taking root. The body insuring itself. I am obsessed with the body abstracted. When I had my period for the first time, I lay on my bed and obsessed over the body dimensional. I was obsessed with the body that could be undone like a mechanical pencil. I was obsessed with the body obstinate, the body refusing. The body solid and pulsing. The body learning.
I am obsessed with the Mona Lisa body, the body hovering in likeness above a crowd humming with bodies. I am obsessed with the body archetypal. The body asserting its unique truth, a geometrical point, perfect and infinitely small. I am obsessed with the body vestigial, the body evaporating. I am obsessed with the mummy-bodies rotted next to jars of good honey.
I have a bodily fixation: oral, anal, phallic, yonic, dextral, sinistral, brachial, thoracic, ventral, tibial, pedal, scapular. I am obsessed with the body scientific, the body metastasized. The body gone cold. The body as clues, the body as savior, the body as mother of more bodies. The body as a dead thing in itself, like the disgorged fetus of a mouse nestled in an acorn. The body that is never one thing: the body like the elephant that blind men touch to determine the shape of the beast. The tusk, spear; the tail, rope; the flank, wall; the ear, fan; the leg, tree; the trunk, snake. The body irreducible.
Consider: the body marble, the body modest, the body shyly turning its head away, hands covering itself with half-commitment. (The smaller body, looking up, burning with envy, roiling with it. The body that desires the stone beyond reproach.) Consider: the body ancient, the body engorged, the body exaggerated, the body surviving volcanic eruptions, a thousand tiny extinctions, the body no longer belonging, the body distilled, the body shouldered. (I am undeserving.)
Consider: the body repulsive, the body fleshy, the body stained with dripping mascara, the body as eyesore, the body cussing with its mass, the body hairy, germinating. (I avert my eyes.) Consider: the body erotic, the body a puzzle, the body made of brushstrokes suggesting something memorable and delicious, the body in motion, the body reaching, the body desiring without a mind. (I take off all my clothes and stand in front of the mirror and take comfort in nothing being imagined.) Consider: the body rejected, the body hated, the body destroyed, the body made martyr, the body made vehicle, the body made saint through crucifixion, the body sacrificial. (The body radiating on the bed with the knife against its thigh.) Consider: the body loved & the body hated, the effort on behalf of the body. Consider: consider: consider the body: consider: consider the body and dissociate it: consider the body and scrapbook it: consider the body and try to carry it like a bride: consider the weight of the body: consider each individual limb, asleep, buzzing: consider the body falling limp against your chest: consider the body: