It happens like this: upon sustaining a severe blow
to the head, the brain tells the arms to jut out
in front of the body, in the same way that a fencer
will hold out his foil in an act of aristocratic
bellicosity just before all the lights go out. Almost
adorable that this happens when the body
is falling, has fallen. I cannot do justice
to its strangeness, though I imagine it must be
horrifying to see in person: a human
made into one of those World Championship
Wrestling action figures we used to play with:
Sting, Lex Luger, Junkyard Dog, each poised
in their very own action stance, each cast in solid
plastic that will probably outlive us all.
(Can you fathom the idea of your body,
dressed in strange underwear and neon boots, arms
outstretched, duplicated ten-thousand times, cast
in solid plastic that will probably outlive us all?) Go
to the Internet if youâ€™d like a better image than that.
The first video that came up for me was a professional
soccer player attempting to head the ball at midfield,
but instead finding the shoulder of his opponent, then
the ground, and then suddenly: â€œON GUARD!â€
A two-sport athlete, just like that.
But seriously, folks, the thing to remember here
is that this is not the work of the mind:
it is the body, or the part of the brain
that is the body: the thing that tells us
that we are not safe, to take up arms
as quickly as possible, to remain
frozen in the moment, poised
for victory, defeat,
whatever we dream of
in this boring dark,
whatever keeps us
from coming to.
Caleb Curtiss is the author of A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us (Black Lawrence Press, 2015). His writing has appeared in New England Review, TriQuarterly, DIAGRAM, Haydenâ€™s Ferry Review, & elsewhere. He lives in Champaign, IL where he edits poetry for Hobart, organizes literary readings, & teaches high school English.