Artist Statement:

Words have coursed through my veins ever since I was five and found my mother’s Apple II. With the first clacking of the keys, I realized I could shape the world with a word. 

I try to illuminate the darkest corners of the world: the uneasy monsters that hide under our beds. I want to be a voice that shouts, “ I see what you see. I feel what you feel. You are not alone.”

I am an essayist, playwright, visual artist and poet who lives and works in Central Illinois. Please follow my artistic journey at http://rachaelstanford.wordpress.com

 

Stages

Rachael Stanford


i

 

I gazed at you, my neck pillow-propped strained to an awkward, unnatural angle, in that painfully white, sterile room.

 

Forty-eight tiles: four vertical rows, twelve horizontal.

 

I tried to breathe as I was serenaded into serenity by the nurses’ chattering. They paused in song to lick their obese blood-red lips as I faded.

 

You are amazingly beautiful. The shadows and curves of your cells, illuminated by the ultra-sound machine's soft glow, could hang in the walls of any pretentious, stuffy contemporary art gallery as rich old white men, their fat bellies tucked into overpriced suits, drowning in desperate art students, who gleaned over their clothes for hours until ever iota was painfully mismatched, debate our meaning.
           

You moved as I to greet the doctor. I wondered if this was the closest I’d ever be to a mother.
His lips mouthed, "there mostly likely is nothing to worry about," but the flash of fear that invaded the pupils of his cold blue eyes illuminated more than any syllables could.

 

My heart raced, coursing through my veins, your breakfast.
           

The irony of my unawareness struck deeply during the next few days.  As I waited, you, my one tiny cell, festered, a parasite feeding off of me, slowing depriving my body of nutrients.
 

I went on.

 

It was just another Tuesday. 
         

If only....
           

Random events-the alarm you swore you set that never rings, the falling of that one last screw needed to hold it all together- that you and I can assign meaning to (after the fact) to validate anything. Now, my friends, family, nurses, doctors and strangers, can tell us with a forced smile that everything in this life happens for a reason.
           

I should be grateful, because God only tests us to make us stronger.  Just think how strong I will be after I beat my own body into submission.  Not you, though, my precious.  You will be dried out, poked, prodded and laid on some microscope lab for a stranger to ogle you in your unabashed nakedness. 
Yet, I am not grateful.
           

The words from the other end of the line, her voice light and airy as if reporting the weather, didn't register to me at first.
           

But, you do.

 

My little one, you are your momma.

 

You are broken.  You cannot thrive or evolve to spread your wings to other parts of my body, but can only  grow in your own obesity, like a fat spoiled child given too much birthday cake, until you press against my windpipe, or artery, or some other organ and damn us both with your suicidal tendencies.

 

ii
             

I still hoped that you and I wouldn't part as I waited in the Ax man's room. This was a bad dream. I only had to roll myself out of bed and let the floor smash against my face. The blood-sweat droplets rolling down my cheeks into my lips will choke me to consciousness.
           

But as I stared at the wall-painting, a blatantly recognizable reprinting of Americana, the little nondescript boy, his features so amorphous that he could pass as my own, smiling at me, I knew I was awake.
             

There were options, are options, and always would be options. Too many options: different choices on what part of me to cut out, on how much to cut out, on alternatives that strangers who can type swear cured all.

 

The choices swirled about the air, a tiny tornado only we could see. I could try them all, dive in and swim around, let their water fill my lungs, but the time on the clock ticks away into your cells. I wonder how long you and I could take it. 

 

"You already know you're going lose it right."
           

We didn't.

 

iii
             

We are alone. You and I and that creepy reprint that bastardized the walls with its assumed art. His eyes followed me as I paced the room. I wanted to rip it down, wanted to scratch it away, paint chip by paint chip, starting with the clear, pure blue eyes of that smiling boy, slowing working my way down his neck, until my bleeding fingernails tear through the canvas and stain the snow-white walls.
           

I wanted to permeate into the cold walls. I needed the permanence.
           

I don't know what you thought, or even if you think. Are you prokaryotic or eukaryotic?  Are you a gift from God or the Devil? Are yu a mark of my uniqueness or a mar showing that I'm just another genetic runt that science kept alive?
           

I desperately want to know.  

 

iv
           

“If you have to get cancer this is the cancer to get." The Ax man said.

 

You are the belle of the ball, my little one. You, nestled in the muzzle of my neck, could surely feel the vibrations of my vocal cords, massaging you with every sob.

 

My farewell gift.
           

I could have asked a thousand questions. I should have. But, all I could ask, how long will my scar be?
           

Only a few inches.

 

A large tribute considering you’re smaller than a pea.

 

I know it is of little consolation but your tombstone will be etched into the soft, supple folds of my skin for all to see.

 

As I slumber, as you slumber, the Ax man will gently cut into my pale skin, peeling it away layer by layer until he rips the beast from me. Until he rips you from me.

 

 

v

 

           

I love you.

 

You must know that.
           

I love you.
           

                 

Euphemism Campus Box 5555 Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790