Wednesday, January 10, 2007

This Plant Is A Healer

There's a scar on my upper leg that looks like a ringworm. It's from a tractor lighter, one that my friend Bridgett stuck on my leg because her granddaddy said it didn't work. It did. The burn, a third degree one, caused her grandmother to scream and run for her aloe vera plant. She squirted some of the strange-looking fluid out of its cactus-like limbs and waited for me to feel better. This plant is a healer, she said. Even at age five, I knew that I needed nothing less than morphine to ease my suffering, not some crappy plant that had been dying in her living room for as long as I could recall. Do not, she said, play on the tractor. Alas, too little, too late, the story of my then short-lived life. I did not like the shape of the burn as it mimicked a ringworm affliction a little too closely. Ringworm was common in my classmates -- many of them had to have their heads shaved because of it and went around with tiny homemade beanies to cover them. Even though the affliction was not pleasant, nothing was as bad as the shame and taunting.

One of my favorite titles ever is the Charles Bukowski short story, "My Beerdrunk Soul Is Sadder Than All the Dead Christmas Trees in the World." It's long as titles go, but I think it says a lot and one of the lines in the story about how we cling to our misery is downright brilliant. Even though I hated my scar as a child, I love it now. The burn was a bad one, but the pain wasn't terrible since it was such a small area. I could separate myself from it, pretend it belonged to someone else. The scar speaks to me of a different time, one when playing on a tractor seemed like a suitable way to pass an afternoon. It fades a little each year, becomes more and more like something else. Then again, it never looked like a burn. It could be a ringworm scar or the surface of the moon, something horrible or magical, but nothing a person could see without knowing what they were looking for from the start.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Sometimes you unexpectedly taste/ the inside of your own mouth." Denis Johnson

Cocktail Hour

Drinking reading suggestion: The Incognito Lounge Denis Johnson

Benedictions and Maledictions

When We Go Out

I never know what to order.
That's where you come in. I
was not born to this world, don't
understand the language. Food
doesn't interest me until it's
on the plate. I'm not going to
be difficult. Tell me what I want.


Terrry Eagleton said...

There's a great scene in "Howard's End" in which Anthony Hopkins orders dinner for himself and Emma Thompson, a meal that includes pudding. Hopkins pronounces it "pooding." They get married anyway. Re "When we go out."

Anonymous said...

Oh my God that sounds painful! My boyfriend bought me an Aloe plant and told me it was a cactus (because that's what I really wanted). The plant died. I pointed an accusing finger at him and said, this sir is no cactus!

Dr. Groucho said...

How high on your upper thigh is that scar, Michelle?

Anonymous said...

"Beerdrunk" is a great title. I've got to record this one. One of my favorites is "I have no mouth and I must scream," from Ellison. As for burn scars, my brother pushed me onto the gas stove in our bathroom one morning while we were getting ready for school. The stove had a grill on the front of it and for a while the back of my leg looked like a burger that had been chargrilled.

Sonny Barger said...

Hippy biker.

Bob Seegar said...

Twelve hours out of Mackinaw City.

Dennis Hopper said...

Uneasy Rider.

Biker Mama said...


Oreo Kid said...


Chuck Bookowski said...


Chuck Gremlin said...

I have no problem with weed. It's the wet sewer tops that get me.

Anonymous said...

It really is amazing how our preferences change isn't it?

Where do they come from really? Outside of us. I'm convinced of that. We never choose our preferences. They just happen. Think about it.

Even as mundane a thing as staring at a restaurant menu is proof. What are we in the mood for? We gauge our reaction to the different choices. It's impossible to say "Today I'll make myself in the mood for this or that". Doesn't work.

Jon said...

Okay...I'll be the one to ask the stupid question...what's a tractor lighter? Just a cigarette lighter on a farm tractor? Duh me.

paul said...

Cajun Queen on floor

Anonymous said...

Whether we admit it or not we all wear our body scars proudly, as if they are medals we won in a war.

And actually we did win them for something or other, the one on my ankle is from my last bar fight where i was beating the shit our of someone who deserved it and his buddy stomped my ankle breaking all three bone. I broke the ankle and got scars the other guy had broken cheek bones and they healed with out scars.

the one on my elbow is when the Atlantic ocean was mad at me and tried to throw me overboard with a thirty foot wave but all she could do was break my elbow. I caught hold of a bollard and won that contest of wills as well.

The scar on my left eyelid is when I caught a screwdriver travelling at the speed of a car fan, it blinded me and ripped my left eyelid off but I caught it handle first so I won again.

Scars are the road maps of our lives and to think of them as anything else diminshes the experience of getting them, like when in an insane moment I put lit cigarette to my hand and let it stay there until it went out. That scar reminds me of a snakes eye when I make a fist.

Aloe is good for healing but then the scars are not as vivid, my scars are my body art and I have many more than I have mentioned.

Each one reminding me of the story behind and the life lived getting them. How boring would it be to have an unscarred body with an unscarred heart to match. Skin that is scarred is stronger skin like a heart that has many scars is a stronger heart. I would not change one scar for an extra minute or hour of life.
I have never felt like a part of this world, I fell through a crack some where and found myself stuck here making the best of the situation. I understand the language but I sometimes wonder why do I have to be the last one left to turn out the lights so the room goes dark? Yet as long as I am here I will only suggest to you what you want for if you don't belong here either how would I know what to put on your plate?

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle lovely view and tale as always. According to the Bard and how you write so vigourously, subtlety is the Soul of Wit so I will simply say champagne toasts caviar dreams and an Auto Show inspired Bravo to my dear Catholic girl!

Anonymous said...

Oh, the stigmas attached to certain things . . . like ringworm, lice, herpes, HIV. It's one of those things that you feel you need to immediately explain, "it's not really ringworm althought it looks . . ." Or, "Yeah, it's ringworm, EVERYONE who used the Miller pool got infected. It's awfull, isn't it?"
I burned my neck with a curling iron and everyone accused me of having a hicky (sp?)But in Jr. High, that's kind of a 'cool' thing.
I love your way with words:
"Even at age five, I knew that I needed nothing less than morphine . . ." and how the afflication was not as bad as the shame and taunting.
I love coming by to read your dailies!
Lindy :)

JR's Thumbprints said...

When I taught delinquent youths from the Wayne County Youth Home, people often asked, "What's the best way to get them to learn?" and I'd reply, "Pain." Rather surprised at my short answer, no one ever questioned my observation.

Anonymous said...


not to self keep away from tractors.