To Be a Monster
CW: Assault (sexual)
Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome:
Before I was born, my spine was a needle & thread.
sat at her window,
tied up her fly-away curls,
& stitched spine to backbone.
How I Became a Defective Marionette:
My insides were a puppet show,
all taught strings & tension.
Tendons, nerves, and tissue
twisted into crevices they should not have twisted into.
The seamstress tied a string to each of my cells,
pulled on them from the inside
until I was a wooden pile of ache.
When My Doctor Used the Word "Deformed":
I was beginning to believe my body was a discarded tapestry
sewn raw & wrong.
They gave me a thousand new names,
all of them tattered,
none of them akin to beauty.
I was led to a table where a man would touch the deepest parts of me,
splay me open like a book
& rewrite my insides.
Surgeons are like Lovers:
We all expect the first one to fix us,
expect the touch of another to release us from all this hurt.
But our first is rarely our last,
isn't that right?
It will take another man several years & three tries to hold my body,
listen to the vibrations from those thin fibers within me,
figure out which strings to cut, which to leave intact.
I am as fixed as I will ever be,
but I still remember being torn to the thread
in a straight line down my back.
Remember the dissolution of hope
as the surgery was repeated,
As a child, I always thought my last surgery
would be the end of grief.
But with red stitches on my back,
purple bruises on my foot,
yellowed skin on a thin leg,
I believe myself a beast.
I am too ready to believe him when
he says he loves my body.
I put myself in his arms
& do exactly as he says.
A Haunted City:
He's raped me in every part of town.
(ice cream shop bathroom)
I convince myself that abuse
is a better fate for this wreck
than lack of touch.
This Isn't About Him or His Hands:
Though it took dozens of attempts,
I've left them behind.
This is about my body
& my hands
& my hands touching my body.
& maybe that's all a monster is:
a body that's survived
& has the scars to prove it.
& maybe when a monster
touches her own savage skin
that is its own kind of ceremony.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JASMINE C. BELL is a poet and artist in Austin, Texas. She currently attends the University of Texas with plans to major in psychology and minor in Mandarin Chinese. She was a member of the UT Spitshine slam poetry team that went to CUPSI from 2015-2017, and will co-coach the 2018 team. In 2016 she also competed in Rustbelt 2016. She is Co-President of the only poetry organization on UT's campus (Spitshine Poetry) where she leads workshops and organizes open mics. She has her poetry published in Apricity Magazine. She spends her time writing, studying, drawing, singing, and eating.