I try to burn out the illness, where do I stop?
Today I am thinking about
burning my medical records. It is a form of exorcism that my doctor and I talked
about once. When I mentioned my desire to erase the computer medical records and
thereby all evidence of my illness, he told me, there were some cultures that
believed you could destroy disease by destroying the records.
of this desperate and deliberate new remedy seems crucial.
myself, folded by my fireplace, laying the thick wads of xerox paper over the
burning logs: not one, but both copies! They are such thick piles, that the papers
will only smoke as they slowly turn to black and then whiten to ash. Fiery red
roses will curl the corners now and then and give off the perfume of a smoky paper
Dissipating into smoke rings, I will see the vials of blood, reflecting
the shapes of so many strangers' faces, my anguish and tears, the embarrassments
and cursedness of tissue swabs, scrapings, pokings, proddings.
waves will absorb the collected microscopic bits of me, once sent all over Massachusetts
and Connecticut. The record, the trail, the evidence, ten years will go up the
The disposal of these ashes seems crucial to the efficacy of the
I will take them to the sea where the tides are the highest in the
world. I will walk out across the mudflats at the lowest tide, sprinkling them
in the red squishy floor of the sea. Each burnt bit will be sucked up and become
food for the microorganisms that make the mud breath, pump, ooze and alive.
I also burn the pile of journals in which I have so meticulously followed each
of my aches and sobs, questions, fears, every tear and every laugh?
the way to make the cure complete?
How far back must I burn my own words,
my own record, my own written trail?
How deep do I cauterize?
think like a surgeon, taking good tissue as I cut out the bad spot?
a division between health and illness in the words?
Where did illness begin?
that I have imagined this cure,
I am not sure I can destroy the records and
Where do the evil spirits being exorcised end and the real
Leave the bullet in.
- Holly W. Graves, 2002
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"There are days when solitude is a heady wine that intoxicates you with freedom, others when it is a bitter tonic, and still others when it is a poison that makes you beat your head against the wall."