I had big dreams of posting a life-changing, earth-shattering post before I turned the blog over to my fabulous guest posters. But turns out that when you’ve been on a liquid fast since after breakfast, life-changing and earth-shattering are just a wee bit out of reach. Surprisingly, jello’s not quite the brain food it’s cracked up to be. I had several women friends over tonight to eat pizza (well, they ate pizza while I moped) and pray. Several women in the room had had c-sections or hysterectomies or other surgeries, so we spent a lot of time trading our war stories. In that spirit, I thought I’d dig into the archives for a poem I wrote about a year after the great pneumonia incident of 2005-2006. It appears in my chapbook Voice Lessons (Plan B Press).
Self portrait with pneumonia
Voice—1. sound produced by vertebrates by means of lungs, larynx or syrinx esp. sound so produced by human beings: The body connives a voice far from the supply line of will and breath now that the lungs no longer remember what key they rejoice in or how to make themselves understood to the rest of the thick body. 2. condition of the vocal organs with respect to the production of musical tones: The veins remain in fine voice, telling the body’s old story in cursive strings of red oozings. The fingers hunger to orate the body’s longing, no longer understudies. 3. an instrument or medium of expression: The lungsick body trembles, subtle violence in hopes of erupting its prodigal voice. The body charts the wheezing refrain of the respirator, calculating when it will get a word in edgewise. The respirator bares the body’s grievances, teaches the new language of one who awakes. 4. wish, choice, or opinion: The voice of the body is cunning, sirening the rebellious lungs even as it secrets its language elsewhere just in case. The slow fluency of catheters, the faint pop of needles hunting tired veins, the yowl of eyelashes startled open: from these the body frankensteins a voice. 5. power: It is no longer necessary to guess at the body, after the revolution it is given voice. 6. a system of inflections, relation of the subject to the action which the verb expresses: When the body declares the active voice the lingua franca, when the body is no longer content to be acted upon, when the body reimagines each of its verbs, will it recognize itself?