detail, Suzanna Fields: Bubble n Drawl, 2011

detail, Suzanna Fields: Bubble n Drawl, 2011

of a body

1. Friends: I have been informed by my dentist that I have an extra bone at the roof of my mouth. I am almost thirty years old, and have never known this about myself. Last visit, this same dentist casually remarked that my airways and nasal passageways were overly small, perhaps explaining why I sometimes sputter and gasp for breath mid-cleaning. I felt vindicated, my childhood conviction that I would die from lack of air somewhat now rooted in fact. The human body is terrifying, and I will never understand or know it: of this, I remain convinced.

2. Two years ago, I sliced off a right fingertip while preparing zucchini on a mandolin. The urgent care doctor appraised the situation and wrapped the bleeding tip in something resembling spider webs spun into silk (stitches were a no go). He promised that my fingerprint would reemerge unchanged. This was a lie--the print is still marled and scarred, the fingertip tender to the touch.

3. There was nothing so shameful as being forced to leave class for a nosebleed, a lack of total control that rendered me mute and motionless, often over a toilet so I wouldn't ruin my clothes when I reached for new tissue. Once the wrestling coach had to bring me something-- I still don't know what-- a gel to sniff in an attempt to stop the flow.

4. An artwork that I likely cannot post on Instagram without it getting removed: Catherine Opie's Self Portrait/ Pervert, in which the artist photographed herself bare chested, the word "pervert" carved, bloody, into the thin skin above her breasts, arms pierced with needles.