Which comes first, the hurt, or the understanding of what it is to be in pain? We talk about the chicken or the egg, the egg or the chicken, we talk of empathy, feeling someone else’s pain without truly feeling it, we are very good at talking, in definitions, in consequences and sequences, numbers and additions and words that end as abruptly as they begin.
The hurt comes first, obviously. Words are good at describing pain: sharp, pounding, burning, aching. You can hear of pounding pain yet not understand it. You can read of sharp needles without feeling them. The burning pain of a fire ends with the sentence; some kinds of hurt don’t begin as words and refuse to end at sentences.
The understanding of what it is to be in pain sinks into your skeleton at the first carpet burn of childhood, the sting of sidewalk, and then you understand what the words are getting at, what they mean coming from another’s mouth, ricocheting in your ears, clattering about your skull. The understanding of what it is to be in pain is an extension of your experiences, a pantheon of moments as finite as a skin. Infinite, between two numbers. A sequence from one to two, the millions of decimal steps like snowflakes building up the snowpeople of you.
So I ask the impossible: you, who have never felt this hurt, hear the jagged melody of a pain deeper than needles, more fluid than shapes of fire. You, who have never had to drink, taste the salt of blood coursing through my veins. You, who have gazed into the sun, can you understand what it is to wander in a night?
Please, feel this lullaby to your bones.