I began to turn mineral last year, the year my mother left. Really, it probably started much earlier, this fossilizing, at birth or before, and had to work its way through so many striations of body to be seen and felt. My first and only visible cues were my feet, about two months after she’d gone: tiny cracks, like in playground dirt, spreading across my soles and refusing to close despite nightly administrations of thick lotion. They don’t hurt, but I can feel them there, razor-thin perforations running every which way, such that each step I take feels like the effort of many feet in close succession. Not unlike, you might say, the movement of a centipede. The process is happening, in order, from the feet up, and is happening slowly. In fact it will probably take my whole life, “take” my life as in snatch or usurp or possess it, and take “my life,” which I imagine myself illustrating by extending my arms, two or three yardsticks wide, to denote length, distance, a measure of time. But I have no sense of “how long” in terms of the calendar. Only a very few people in the world know exactly how long they will live, and fewer still know exactly when they will die. I still have my hair, abundant and thick. It seems to move when I am still, like seaweed in a tidepool. An unseemly crown atop such a calcifying body, it feels less to me like hair than some kind of murmuring, loamy clock.
North of my feet, there is no discernible evidence that my composition has changed. My limbs look like ordinary limbs, small and wiry as is my build, and my trunk too is unremarkable. But I am unable to trust them as body parts. Their inner content has solidified—veins like unraveled paper clips, tissue liked baked clay—and as such they are no longer responsive, decipherable matter. I have to learn my body consciously as I once knew it unconsciously, how it bends and straightens, how it deals with stimuli, how it goes through doorways. I have not mastered these operations, but I have mastered appearing as though I have mastered them. Much of my effort goes toward seeming at ease. And in place of pain, pure and straightforward as I once knew it—its onslaught, its management after, say, a burn or a stub or a sprain—or pleasure, with its ebbs and swells, its smoothness or stickiness—I now feel a stunning neutrality, constant estrangement from my own person, from my sensory potential. . . . Read More.