The description of Beli’s scars in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao reminded me of song lyrics I couldn’t place, something about maps and scars. Turns out that I was thinking of this Los Campesinos! lyric:
Between my waterfalls and your landslides, there’s cartography in every scar
Cartography is the process of making maps. In a way you create geography by examining it, committing it to a “map” (mental, emotional, physical). To map out one’s scars is to discover and rediscover them, to recall one’s geological history.
I remember the time a nail tore into and through my shin, creating a valley that healed into a raised mound. Even now though, I don’t recall explicitly how it happened. I don’t entirely trust my own memory and the words of those around me.
I see a semi-permanent bruise on my neck, a rough and dark patch of what are probably burst capillaries.
I see the spot on my face where my dog bit my lip open. I remember the nurse saying something like “your girlfriend won’t be able to kiss you” and I laughed a nervous high school senior who was emberassed about not having a girlfriend laugh. And now I remember that not long after that I nervously told a woman in the early AM before school “I’m kind of madly in love with you” and I had my first kiss.
I see my left forearm People think you have to get tattoos in certain places and I just like the effect of having it off-center, you know? and the scar I asked someone to give me stab me repeatedly, thousands of times over, mark each piercing with the darkest ink you have. I offer this idea to shape and form, please honor it as best you can. WONDERLUST in Futura Bold with two stars on either end Those stars, do you want me to fill them in? I think they look good just like that. I tell people it means “to always look for new and cool” but I don’t know. Wonder. Lust. Lust is an emotion or feeling of intense desire in the body according to Wikipedia. Wonder is
the emotion excited by what is strange and surprising; afeeling of surprised or puzzled interest, sometimes tinged with admiration
What do I chase in life? What should I chase in life?
My back right shoulder, again. I’m rebuilding my shattered and broken spirit. I listen. I hear “You worry a million raindrops ‘ll die/With the last memory of you and I/In a soft-porn version of the end of the world.” I sing it. The enormity of it doesn’t fit in three lines mid-crescendo. This is the peak for me. It’s drizzling out as I hear it and I’m thinking of surrender and letting go of myself Relieve me of the bondage of self and I can all at once hear and see myself and my knuckles white as pallor and I let merciful grace grab my fist and hold me and give me something to let go of. So I don’t sing it, I speak it. I hear the meter. I hear the words. I speak them to myself, let them be bespoke. I listen and I listen and I hear tattoo. I hear permanent reminder. I hear other things too but I wait and I listen and only some things endure. Only some thing ever endure. It’s my handwriting. It’s my design. It’s fingerprints on my back. I catch glimpses of it when I shower or in other people when I show them. I have pictures that I look at when I can’t see it. I take pictures when I can’t see it. And when I see it on screens or in words or eyes or spirits I am over the moon. I love it. It’s me. I love me.