Imperfect Body

In 2006 something broke. A culmination of events – I had bought a house in Port Elizabeth. Drug dealers moved in next door. They housed prostitutes that would scream to be let out during the day then were drugged at night and let out onto the streets. They returned night after night for more drugs.  I reported the drug dealers to the police and so started a fight I would never win. First my car was stolen. The lead drug dealer came to me the next day and said, “We took your car last night to cover the loss of the drugs the police took because you reported us.” I learnt, in my battle with forces I didn’t understand, how deep corruption lies and also how there are some battles that can’t be won. At the same time I watched a dear friend die because our public health service is so horrific. They fed her disprins while she was bleeding internally. Finally my partner, whom I had been with for three years, decided to move on partly because I had become so obsessed with winning a battle I could not win that I became unreasonable, unstable and riddled with anger and fear.  I woke up one morning looked at myself in the mirror and cut all my hair off. I then spent three days lying in front of a fire doing nothing, eating very little. It rained and stormed for those three days. On the fourth day the sun came out. I got up and began to move. Slowly. Then I put music on and for another two days I danced. I bruised my body. I exhausted myself. The dance became a dance I performed publically called “imperfect body”.  I drew on the Butoh style of dancing because it felt right. It was a dance of darkness. The dance also became this poem. I’ve decided to share it because a friend of mine, Bruce Haynes, who has been a poet since he was a young boy, has been exploring through embodied movement and connection to objects and spaces his ‘conscious madness’. He writes, “This time I was dreaming awake rather than awake but dreaming. Awake within the safe ritual space of art or conscious madness”. Imperfect Body was that moment of raw alert, wakefulness held within ‘the safe ritual space of art/conscious madness.’

IMPERFECT BODY

Her back caves
Loaded and heavy
Close to the earth
Neck collapses
Hair bits trail the ground
Spittle slips the lip
& drops.

In the thumb agony
Pulling outwards away
Sending chest forward
Head extending neck
Pulling the lips
Teeth stare.

Deep, deep in body tissue
Unravels the rage
Stiff the back muscles
The halt of eyes open & rigid
Chest breath & fast.

In the stomach lies freedom
Stretch towards the world
Back arched
V-rib & long
To tip of elongated fingers.

In the breath lies an animal
Small & quivering
Insteps coil
Torso felled forward
Rippling spine.

From head to heart
A sweep
An ache.

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