The body remembers.
The sun-scorched skin can number the days beneath the sky’s great torch, planting grain, lying on the beach, and walking to the train. The knees recall each road they travelled and the weariness of sidewalks and pavement. They can count the ups and downs of stairs you’ve long forgotten. The back has followed every step you’ve taken, holding you upright through the hard days, willing to bend at your command and lift small children, boxes, and bags and bags of groceries. The bones empty themselves to make space for all the memories of stillness. They languished those hours, longing to carry you, to feel the heft of life and movement. In the unseen places, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage journal every blow, fall, jolt, jump, stroll, dance, and spin; most of which you cannot remember.
The body grows weary of silence.
Year after year the body waited, remembering. The few times it spoke, you listened, tended to its needs, and heard no more. Stories must be told and now the body speaks. The skin brings up memories of the sun, like old photographs printed on your face. The knees insist you listen to the recitation of burdens borne; the back wakes you at night to tell its tales. Day after day the memories excavate within the bones, hollowing them out for a place to rest, nestling within the fragile spaces of the clavicle, radius, and femur. Tendons, ligaments, and cartilage lose themselves in remembrances that stretch across the years.
The body must tell, and should you turn away, it speaks more loudly. Listen it says, this is where I’ve been, this is the road I trod. And you must listen. Where else can you go?
Elderly woman: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.