i inspect my legs carefully. tawny streaks and dapples, floating atop translucence of skin, run up and down my shins, across my knees, around my ankles. to strangers they are imperceptible, but each faded scar to me speaks vividly. past events live within these healing spots. scratches, scrapes, accidents, misdirections. despite the twenty-plus years of practice of walking on two feet, clumsiness takes me, and my golden surface accepts the regular black or blue. they brand my skin with traces of past slights, of which i cannot escape or deny.
my right ankle bears a soft, muted mauve on the bone. one wintry morning when i was in high school -- where whiteness flows dizzy outside the pane and a luscious snow day report is broadcast -- i set out to retrieve the newspaper and feed the mailbox. clad in pajamas and a lazy optimism, i threw on a sweatshirt and slid sandals onto my bare feet. clutching outgoing envelopes, i manuevered down the porch, dodged the white wind, and carefully pattered down the driveway to my destination. i open the little doors. clutching the daily newspaper, i set back towards the house. so close, yes, almost there. i think of something and nothing, and suddenly slip. i feel the ice, crunchy friction against my bare skin. one false step, and my ankle is bruised and bleeding. inside the house, i find the newspaper in my hands wet and smeared.
under my right knee boasts a smattering of brown. i can't help but wonder if it's been there since i was 6, a memory still with me for reasons i cannot understand. i was at a friend's home, her name was sara i think, and her front driveway sloped down slightly, looped, and curled back up to the house. sara on her small pink bicycle would coast down the pavement, and pedal back up the incline. she could cycle continuously around this infinitely recusive path. swoop, climb, swoop. she looked as though she were flying. envious of her flight pattern, i begged to try. we traded places, she now standing on the grass, and i in the seat. i began down the slope and knew i would be ever more graceful, and weightless as a bird. the acceleration took me by surprise, and i was too paralyzed to balance or turn. i capsized with speed at the bottom, hurt in the tangle, humiliated. my whole body burned with indignation, of myself and the bike and the incline that failed me, as sara's mother applied sticky bandages to my pink skin. i swore to myself that day that i would never attempt to go down that driveway again. i held a hatred to the asphalt.
as to more recent events, i sprained my left ankle last year [halloween on crutches rendering significant pillage on the underarms of my fine dolman merino sweater]. on a day in which i was to catch a plane, i went running in the morning to inhale the day, to blush my cheeks. i traversed new neighborhoods, winding in an out of the unfamiliar sidewalks and streets. a tall peculiar tower, perched high, silently invited my company. i ascended higher and higher until i reached the top, surveying the view of the city below. the air was sunnily clear as i jogged in place. suddenly, my foot caught uneven pavement, and i fell immediately. before i knew what happened tears of pain ran down my face. a concerned passerby could offer nothing but a kleenex. i walked in excruciation for more than a mile, frightened and crying, searching in vain for a taxicab or a shuttle. in that split moment in the sunshine high above, i went from triumphant to vulnerable. i had to use a brace for months afterward, and even now on occasion my ankle performs a strange turn or bend. the weakness within betrays me unexpectedly.
my scars, telltale, with each day fading.