Writing From Below | Duck - Nat Dianne Texler
Writing From Below

Duck

Nat Dianne Texler

History never repeats.

Your jaw clicks to the tune of 4 by 4 guilt. An aching rhythmic pulsing echoed by the marrow of your bones. You’re exhausted again.

Funny how these thoughts always happen at about 3 a.m.

It’s always the same. The same hiccup on your favourite-favourite-favourite-favourite vinyl record, the same divot in your steering wheel from gripping it too tightly. The same prospective failures that create a doppler effect of anxiety. Nnnnooom. You’re panicking behind the dashboard.

Slam the brakes. Count to three.

One.

Two.

Three.

Clutch. Gear. Accelerate. Turn the music up. Wind down the windows. Exhale.

You got lucky that time.

But history never repeats.

It’s easy to reach for a bottle when the bullet seems the better option. Although in this economy, bullets may seem cheaper. Love don’t come cheap. At least a HECS debt is measurable.

Your lessons become lesions with this education. Fear is the guiding line. You create geometry from thoughts. You use them to cut into yourself.

It used to leave scars but you’re better now. Now you just have sarcasm and a sense of a mouth too big and words too clumsy. Hopefully someday soon, you’ll stop apologising.

Sorry.

History never repeats.

A white static screen flickers to life inside your head. Within white and black, you see patterns.

One.

Two.

Three.

Any more and your fingers shake.

Instead, you look for the structures. Agonists and agony, you find a subconscious desire to destroy the story. To murder the protagonists. To make your love interest two stone slabs pressed close to your flesh.

Thou shalt not covet.

Mind you, your entire existence is a sin.

Sometimes it feels as if your brain is stuffed with straw, and your heart is echoing in a tin.

Man. You’re so scared.

One.

Two.

Three.

Hiding behind these narrative metaphors seems untrue, which in itself is ironic as they feel more real than the last time she punched you in the face.

But history never repeats.

She punched you in the face.

History never repeats.

You had to get a root canal.

History never repeats.

The feel of the drill burrowing into your skull still haunts you.

History…

You feel your body take over, heart hammering against a cage of bones.

Here’s her story:

“We need to talk.”

It took you a while but you’re back here again. Back to the white foamy feel in your veins. Back to an inflating ball of panic in your body. You’re swollen with fear. You sweat. Paralysed. The venom of her voice echoes in your ears.

“Leave. Fuck off or I’ll kill you.

It was so matter-of-fact, she could have been talking about the weather.

“If you think I deserve to die, kill me. But we need to talk.”

Quoting yourself makes you feel ill. Bile rises and burns your throat.

She moves like the popping of firewood. She’s always been sharp, always a tightly wound spring of emotions. She’s got a killer left hook and a barbed tongue. You used to think it was kind of sexy. Right now, you think you should be murdered on the spot.

The first punch is unreal – the snapping shut of a jaw, a starburst of white hot pain in your skull as bone meets bone meets bone.

The second aimed at your body. Pain is dulled as you feel yourself float away. Your mind shuts down. It’s just your body now.

Purple has always been your colour.

You can barely feel the third.

Or the fourth.

Or the fifth.

It’s a repeating echo.

It’s a seizure.

It’s an ice-cube down the back of your shirt.

The last of the dream ropes tendrils of delusion through your brain, waking you:

love is guiding, you can forgive, she didn’t mean it, you misbehaved, she’s just angry, let it out, let it out, stay, don’t go, be safe, love, love, love.

Yet in the motions of viciousness, the strands become severed and you fall through realisations of a reality far beyond the fantasy you lived in for 2 years.

Love is not a system of owe and be owed.

Love is not a crucifix.

Love is not suffering.

Love is NOT the swelling of contusions under skin.

It is not nails hammered into your ribcage.

It is not hooks ripping into flesh.

It is not soda water blood.

Love is not violence.

She’s forced you before.

Love is not violence.

The walls have been bloodied.

Love is not violence.

She gets inside you.

LOVE is not violence.

What does she think she’s doing?

You feel muscles flex and you shove her away…

Bakers Gully Road. Mountbatten Avenue. Growler’s Creek Road. Maria Street. Brighton Road. Primrose Terrace. Russell Street. Orange Grove Boulevard…

You screech to a halt half a millimetre from the ground. A single fraction of motion from shattering from the impact. The past falls back into the snow blown static inside your head. Years have passed.

Oops.

It happened again.

You had a moment.

Your indulgence in history will be the death of everything you hold dear.

Flashbacks are polaroid pictures of self-perceived failures to communicate… Or something like that.

It’s hard to remember what your therapist says sometimes.

You take a deep breath, to the pit of your stomach, to the soles of your feet. You inflate and as you exhale, out goes the feeling of cotton wool stuffing.

One.

Two.

Three.

You lay back into your pillow and glance at the sleeping figure to your side. Things are still new, truth outspoken, veins weft and arteries woven. Funny how illusive definitions can be. There is always a pause after where you wonder whether you’ll ever be able to say what Love actually is.

There is so much inside your heart that your brain can’t make metaphors for. You wonder if you’re even wired for sappy love poetry.

“Shall I compare thee to the day my tooth was shattered?”

It doesn’t really sound as good outside your head.

Well. One step at a time. Eat. Shower. Exercise. Work. Tell the person you Love what you feel. Simple right?

Your jaw throbs with the ghost of a bruise and nerves become alight with spasms of panic. Oh yeah. There’s one more rule:

Next time something swings at you… Duck.

ERA Research Statement

Research background

The examination of creative output is a fast-growing field of study for creative writing. With methodologies such as practice-based and practice-led, as well as the exegesis form of thesis becoming more acceptable by scholars, it falls to practitioners to provide new perspectives which can be examined at the intersection of applied cultural studies and creative method. These insider accounts are invaluable and provide a perspective from “within” practice, experience, or knowledges inaccessible to outside sources.

Research Contribution

Duck is a poem with autobiographic information presented through the lens of spoken word. Such creative autoethnographic accounts provide insight into situations that may be either too confronting or too subjective to be examined otherwise, as well as providing scholarly research in the language of a practice. As Brad Haseman states, “research outputs and claims to knowing must be made through the symbolic language and forms of practice” (Haseman, 2006, 101). Duck attempts to interpret and relay the experiences of anxiety that lead into a post-traumatic flashback. It attempts to present the experience as genuinely as possible, with references to a variety of “moments” encapsulated through sections designed to allude to various “coping” mechanisms.

With origins in Dr Quinn Eades’s workshop, “Art(i)culating the Body,” Duck approaches PTSD from the perspective of physical reactions. The intersections of the “emotional” and the “logical” are explored by capturing the reactive nature of the body in poetic language. The climax of the piece dissolves into therapeutic repetition, mimicking a recommended psychological technique for controlling flashbacks, and seeks to explore the whiplash nature of “coming back” once an episode has occurred. The use of self-referential language explores the desire for control over anxieties and conditions, and ultimately highlights a failure to “stop” the symptoms. The failure highlights the use of Eades’s “body autographical” writing technique, in that while the mind may attempt to “disarm” the panic attack, the body ultimately proceeds. This does not imply that the episode is destructive. Duck takes the perspective that the body’s reaction to trauma is a natural response to violence, and while the writing may appear fragmented and violent, the denouement contains optimism of a future where the body’s reactions will prevent violence from occurring.

Research Significance

As this is an autobiographical account presented in a creative form, it provides a subjective insight into psychological disturbances experienced by someone with diagnosed mental health issues. It also seeks to utilise Eades’s concept of “writing from the body” by allowing the “logical” metaphors play out before the “emotional” experience of a flashback takes over in the climax of the piece. Duck grounds itself in the explication of violence from the perspective of the victim and seeks to show the impact of such events on both psychological processes (the excessive metaphors and attempt to “make sense” of the actions) and coping mechanisms (“grounding” practices, and self-justifications).

Works Cited

Haseman, B. (2006). A Manifesto for Performative Research, Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy: Quarterly Journal of Media Research and Resources, 118: 98-106.



 

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