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According to Heidegger,
an object becomes
when it is no longer
I don’t think
he was talking about bodies,
but I don’t really know.
My mind is
to understand his writing.
Because when I got sick
my mind became
along with my body.
Too fickle to serve
its purpose reliably.
What am I to do
with this thing,
Trustless, I regard it
with a wary kind
That my sentience
in radiant moments
That it will be useful,
I will be useful,
for brief windows
maybe, even, because
There are times when being in my body hurts so badly
that I find myself wanting God.
Well shit, I think. Because I don’t believe in God.
For centuries, ill people have dragged themselves
to supposedly holy places to be blessed, to be healed.
It seems like, lots of times, there’s water involved.
God is in a spring, in a fountain, in H20 somehow suffused
with a godness that will render your body no longer broken.
When I can muster the energy, I go to the community pool.
It looks like the Southern California version of a holy place,
edged with flamboyant palm trees, sun shining extravagantly,
lane lines stretching across the pool’s glittering liquid surface.
I bob along in the water, surrounded by people swimming,
many of them fast—healed, or never broken in the first place.
I, however, am slow. I use a kickboard and move my legs
in a gentle breaststroke, so I am not tempted to go faster
than my ill body can tolerate.
Do I want to be healed? Yes and no.
Yes, because to be washed clean of illness sounds transcendent.
I would move beyond physical restraint. I would go fast, not hurt.
No, because illness has robbed me of the energy for wanting.
But wanting healing is different than wanting God, I think.
Some company in my pain sounds nice, even if not God’s.
In the pool, I think of all those who came—ill—before me,
a lineage in these lustral waters.
I see on the small screen
photographs of acquaintances, traveling.
Paris, Berlin, Tokyo.
New York. Mexico City. Marfa.
Their world wide
While I am stuck here
on the couch,
my body too ill for traveling.
But not exactly stuck,
For how can one be stuck
when one has
books and music and
art and films,
each a glimpse into the minds
that make up the whole world?
Explore the entirety of Elizabeth Rooklidge’s Sick Women (2023-ongoing) here.