Audrey Dimola: Special Feature
RELIQUARY: THE BODY
i was studying for midterms in my freshman year of college when i found out i was pregnant.
i did the test and walked out of the room- my mother said she'd tell me what it said but she said nothing.
sometimes i wonder if it was that moment it left- and i just never realized it in all this time.
i guess i never really understood the feeling- my body not belonging to me.
i sat and for hours all i could do was write on myself. drew X's in long lines from ribcage to thigh to ankle. slammed my closed up fist into doors, into my gut- crying at the ceiling, feigning sleep.
that pointless, angry, balled up fist.
what was i to tell myself, then?
what would happen?
i always was a reckless child- not in the sense i didn't value myself.
the body was a vessel for adventure.
there were other things to be afraid of, later. like how to tell if i went blind in the middle of the night. what my parents would look like in coffins. how the rest of my life would be over in an instant- 20, 30, 40, 50- ripped off calendar pages and snapped up window shades.
but IN my body- i was fearless.
i still have the scars to prove- that crack against the pavement, that miscalculated leap, that rush of blood to the mouth, to the palms- it was all a necessary part of living.
and so was love.
in the fear of the moment it's difficult to remember the child self- the one who dreamed games out of nothing, endangered herself constantly. it's hard to remember to take care of her, to take care of you, when you've spent so much of your existence displacing pain.
i don't know how it burrowed itself down so deeply in me.. i didn't want the life i watched my parents lead- how could i, consciously?
but it was the unconscious i didn't take into account- these cracked open doorways, all darkness and red sheets.
the sounds i felt echoing in my innards.
the chaos i always chose to replicate.
i am thirty years old and the only homes i have ever found are buried in the beds and arms and chests of someone else.
i wasn't familiar with endings.
the only people who died were ones i didn't really love and my parents fought and fought and fought but never split, my father left and came back, left and came back, that's what they taught me.. you do what you can to survive- love to the point of destruction while always begging me to find otherwise, because- it was blood.
but it was also- warmth.
i have been chasing that warmth my entire life- always seeking it outwardly.
i have been given everything i asked for- years and teeth and tears, a ring to keep, safe places to go, and refused them. chaos down deep in the belly- the way i was born, the way it grew and died, unwanted.
survival- that's what they taught me.
and so- i never leave, really. i just sit inside my head surrounded by cracked doorways wondering which one i'll go through next.
sometimes- it is a pure burst like a firebird, wondrous and vital to some unsuspecting soul.
and other times, it is raking my fingers through the coals- apologies, gratitude, self-flagellation- trying desperately to rekindle the flame with someone i once promised myself to.
and it never ends.
every morning i am crawling out from covers, every night i am slipping back under- another place, a different room- their hearts never beat the same against my frantic ear but there is blood, and the thing about blood is that it means- warmth.
i find myself inside them.
and as much as i have tried to renegotiate, reanalyze, retrain- my body isn't mine, it's theirs.
i am always standing, arms outstretched, palms scrawled with the same scripture- GIVE YOURSELF TO ME AND I WILL GIVE YOU EVERYTHING. everything except for all that's missing. all that still belongs to someone else.
i have no desire to scour the landscape, the way isis pieced osiris back together- there is no holiness in resurrection for me, there is no holiness in return. they can all keep what they possess of me- each breath i heave, my ribs are scrawled with names.
swear to me that love doesn't end it just transforms.
swear to me that the girl doesn't die she just becomes something else.
i give up my human body, this reliquary filled with ghosts.
i give up this angry fist, these useless fingerprints.
i give up my human body.
i will become the fire instead.
Celebrated for her dynamic presence on stage and on the page, Queens, NYC native Audrey Dimola is a poet, performer, curator, connector, and lifelong artist. She is also Director of Public Programs at her beloved Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City. Audrey is the author of two poetry & prose collections, “Decisions We Make While We Dream” (2012) and “TRAVERSALS” (2014), and has been widely recognized for presenting a unique circuit of local events and creative opportunities including, most recently, the sold out show HOW WE CREATE & HOW WE COPE: intersections of art and mental health/mental illness at Queens Council on the Arts. She can usually be found: writing on everything, riding her bike, climbing trees, pushing the edges of reality… And of course, stoking the flames. audreydimola.com