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  • No Market for Unfixable Suffering, and: Seeing Myself in Christina Ricci's Character from After.Life, and: Participant 055, and: In Isolation, I Remember You
  • Brandi Nicole Martin (bio)

No Market for Unfixable Suffering

So I watercolor my skin graftand thereby beautify its hue,reframe so I was never "crushed under"or "burned by car muffler" but instead delicious,a palatable image, a crumb on the lipof the reader's hungry God. The alternative,more difficult: one day, doctors laced me to a table,tilted it upward so my legs would avoidforming clots. This was after the brain bleed,but I was still a numb puddle, an inkblot,nothing but regret and a hideous floating head.Ashamed to have visitors, friendswho covered their mouths and let no cries outtill they later drove home and prayed,thanking their Creator that they were maybegrieving, a little mentally ill—but not, hallelujah, as bad off as me.My therapist says I might always be angry.My therapist says my shadow grows from megarbled as a limb. My therapist as Virgil,pointing through the echelon of Hell,where sinners stumble toward uswith their heads yanked backward,some cruel torsion forcing face toward kidneys,and I weep when I realize that I'm that one, over there,the bent-necked girl who woke todaywith a crick in her cervical spine.Later I'll Google every way I might die.abandon hope, all who readwhat i write. My mother says dirtpacked so tight in my eye sockets [End Page 61] that some nights she still sees me swollen,her bloated daughter, legs snapped like kindling,legs folded up over my body as I lay there,a fucking pretzel—No, wait!All around us, death whorls a cosmosof limitless cobalt light! Are you listening yet?Stay with me. I'll be your guide. [End Page 62]

Seeing Myself in Christina Ricci's Character from After.Life

Ten minutes in, the woman diedand woke on a mortuary slab.A van ran her sedan off the road.The undertaker might've lied—I don't know—when he told herNo, you're really dead, justnot ready to let go and move on.Motionless and rimy, she could stilltalk, felt very much alive, and I thought,Ages ago, my tubed throat.Forever since God nailed the hemof my hospital gown to the floor,wedged me between a timeline I fearand a grave I lean into,daring myself to slip. I've felt caughtever since, though, lopsided, I do treadthrough boring halls, call my mom,and fret about not making rent.I regret everything I touch.I watched the funeral director stitchthe girl's bright wound, and it was

          1) grotesque enough to remind me where I am          2) familiar as a favorite pair of jeans.

Sometimes I need to be shocked awake.Listen. I pressed pause. I walked away. [End Page 63]

Participant 055

1.EEG cap a man binds to my scalpto hold the outbursts in but keep sanityrattling at the door. I'm swathedin wires again and the man says Nota needle before nettling my templeslike I'm on another gurney ride to nowhere,

scent of pennies and the disembodiedbeeps. A computer he wheels nearwill prompt You should notlook away. Pain is negation,so when the door shuts, my mindgets stuck and the study begins.

2.          When threatened with an image          I must remember the curt flash of a shape,          but instead I see fingers unlock and dovetail on repeat—

image: a shotgun aimed at the viewer and thenMemory: an IV bag glistens into dew and thenimage: a woman strokes a cock (as if that shocks) and thenMemory: my sloshing shot after shot when he was gone and thenMemory: the windshield explodes into matter and moon and thenimage: a leg splits to grisly pink underneath and thenMemory: my own barbecued calf and thenMemory: its tang and its visible throb and thenMemory: my mother's pork roast slips supple from its...


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