Using a question in Bhanu Kapil's The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers as a prompt:
"Tell me what you know about dismemberment."
I wanted the definition.
I thought I knew dismemberment— the poetry I wrote often spoke about how I couldn’t feel my legs, couldn’t find my pelvic bone, couldn’t find my feet. A woman trying to use words to stitch together a dismembered body. I searched the internet and the visuals screamed. Broken, torn bodies bent over medians on roads, jammed into holes. The red a deep brownish crimson. This is not the dismemberment I know. I have never witnessed this. I do know of a splitting, a loss.
Sometimes there aren’t words for the way we lose our bodies. Sometimes we don’t know they are gone. Sometimes limbs are extracted, a literal, visual dismemberment but more often they are not.
A lost limb isn’t always a loss. Sometimes we remain high-functioning in that always oppressive way— full of expectation— other times we find ourselves deteriorating, then relearning and trying to recover what was ripped away. The phantoms stimulate the imagination, make us feel as if we are whole but we will never feel whole.
Sometimes I’m in a car and over and over I see crashing. It’s not that I’ve lost control— I am choosing this wreck—letting go of the wheel in search of whatever’s next. For some bodies, there is comfort in loss of control. Comfort in a ripping out of what’s expired— the impatient demand for new.