This Skin Is For Feeling Nothing

A couple of days ago, Christine and I were having one of those random rabbit-trail conversations that somehow ended up on the question of superhero mutations. She mentioned dragon skin and the power of imperviousness.

I speculated on the dynamics of acquiring such powers; would a mutation amplify an existing trait? Or would truly mythic transformations bestow upon the hero-to-be the kinds of capacities they’d only wished for, but had never actualized? This metamorphic distinction seems to mark the line between the curse and the blessing in superhuman ability—then again, we know that both realities may be true at once.

To acquire dragon’s skin; to become reptilian—that is what the Lebanese expression “tamsa7” means. More accurately, “to become a crocodile,” or to turn unfeeling, unaffected, impervious to the churn of circumstance. This is an expression I’d heard many times over the course of the fractal crises we grew up in. Tamsa7na. We have clothed ourselves in dragon‘s armor, an exo-suit that protects us from harm.

I don’t hear that any more. In the past year, my friends in Lebanon have been pierced and they are bleeding out. When I begin to imagine that they’ve been bled dry, the scars of healing begin to form. Then my friends are wounded again; their capacity for rejuvenation would be beautiful if it weren’t so heartbreaking. I fear the day when their hearts break for the very last time.

I am still wearing my dragon suit, but it hangs loose off my frame, and my body aches. Every joint feels a hundred years old. For all I know, that’s how old I actually am. Maybe I was decommissioned long ago; maybe I simply forgot.

This skin is for feeling nothing.

This skin is for feeling everything.

This skin is for crawling across the surface of this world.

This world doesn’t care about feelings.

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