Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Open Wound or The Raw Nerve

Writer Nicolette Wong, a talent you should have a look at, wrote recently of being sick at heart. Three words that stirred me to the keyboard, stirred my mind, the gray stuff beneath my skull running amok twisting those three words like a long strand of hair hanging over my serious brow and between nervous fingers.

Sick at heart.

It's dark and beautiful, no? And true. And beautiful.

Tolstoy wrote that writers, artists, creative people, people sensitive to the emotions and feelings flowing in waves across the world, suffered from "a great wound." I've always thought of it as a raw nerve, jerking up through the layers of skin in, say, a forearm and doused with rubbing alcohol, jerking in the strange air, pain its only purpose.

I know why I think this. One evening, about dusk, I visited a friend's house. Between us, ages added together, we were still less than twenty-five. Young boys. I wanted him to go riding bikes or the such. A body shop did his dad own, and this is where I found him, pushing with a retracting blade to skin loose the hood decoration of a T-Bird, that large bird of lore remembered perhaps from the Smokey and the Bandit movie from those days before the world changed.

But he was working to get this bird off the hood. And I helped. I'll not bore with other details, but my friend, striking toward himself, cut a three inch long gash and a half inch deep cut in his forearm.

I saw the yellow vein pushing up through the skin. We walked calmly to his grandmother's house where she opened a bottle of rubbing alcohol and poured the contents onto his forearm. The nerve, that yellow string of life, jerked and pushed against the sides of the severed skin. My friend, a strong boy and a strong man now today, never cried.

He told me years later he would have cried if I had not been there, standing on the porch when the remedy was administered.

Like my friend, those of us with creative tendencies cry inwardly, dripping it onto the page or the canvas or into the hollow insides of a saxophone. We hide our pain while telling the world everything we know about it.


  1. Yes, this is truth. And beautifully put.

  2. I love just says a lot about life...well, about childhood, anyway. I know I've felt this...


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