Not of Sky or Place, But of Skin

By Jane Lewty

I saw one woman, one man, with somatization disorder eye-
ball-to-eyeball in a staring match for light relief. One’s narcis-
sistic, one’s avoidant. “We both made the mistake if you want
to appoint blame,” said the narcissist. Whose faulty dorsolat-
eral prefrontal cingulate, premotor, and parietal cortex is less
likely to create a brain tumor in a few hours?

They had exquisite sensitivity to sound. They’d wear head-
phones so as not to suffer the traffic. Once, the avoidant broke
her hand, smashing it into a doorframe because of a motor-
bike. Outside the apartment, someone screamed at her from
across the street, tore at their own face, stared. She thought it
was a forecast. To fall in among voices is the very worse. That
night she had a problem with the veins in her forehead, and
then her wrist. She read up about clotting and cauterizing, of
Philomela who was raped and silenced. Even the dead retain
their sense. She saw her mouth quaver at the edges, felt the
brush and bruise of ideas. In the weeks ahead – dumb, asinine
– she watched the body for snarl-ups, tick tock.

Saying “I will starve myself into holes” is another example. Not
an involuntary tic but a self-generated attack that undermines
minute-to-minute behavior. A mental contracture. If one can
locate the primary fixed idea, such secondary reactions can be
seen as post-original. Comments become a flowing system all
on their own, i.e. “I didn’t think you would have a nice ass but
you do.” Various sordid acts are allowed to occur. The person
has been badly injured, it has trouble of will.



Jane Lewty is the author of Bravura Cool (1913 Press: 2013). Her poems can be found in journals such as Tarpaulin Sky, Philadelphia Review of Books, The Volta and Dusie, among others. She currently lives in Amsterdam.