When people describe Something (war, architecture or poverty) as a ‘scar across the landscape’, I don’t think they mean that Something (war, architecture or poverty) was black, scabby, bruised and held together with bloodstained strips of adhesive.
I’ve been looking at my scar, my wound, for the past three days. I take a little silver hand mirror and put it on the sink. Then I pull up my shirt, pull down my pants and, holding up my belly a little, I lightly touch the bruised skin above the scar. It looks like my skin has turned into a smashed plum. The scar slashes across the top of my pudenda; it’s about 3 or 4 inches long. The scar is the ugliest, grossest thing I’ve ever seen on my body.
A few days before the surgery, I thought of the virginal way I think about my body. By ‘virginal’ I mean that I hold my body aggressively to myself. Thinking of my body as ‘virgin’ has nothing to do with sex or chastity. I don’t know how to explain it; I just think of my body as mine. It is inviolate; it is whole; it is the same as it has always been; it has all its original parts; it is not shared by anyone or anything. No flag has been planted on it, by marriage or motherhood.
But this surgery, as minor as it was, has changed my body’s landscape.
Where there was previously nothing, now there waves a tiny white flag with a red cross on it.