What would a pain language look like? Sound like? Written, I imagine on the body and the sheets, clothes and pillows in shit and blood. Projected like movies. A stuttering, irritated series of marks with an almost rhythm (always almost). For neuropathy it would be etched on shoes and socks, gloves, the steering wheel, keyboard. Charred and raised red, engraved in boiling marks, for the sizzling sound that should be there. Like bare electrical wires hissing as they buzz and threaten out of sync.

The aching would be the terrible drone of wailing mourners, the white hot broken place that’s cool to the touch. The written words would loop and loop, letters and symbols heavy, the pen tip digging deep trenches, scribbled on top of each other, an indecipherable, weighty pile of muttering, whimpering pleasestoppleasestop.

The headaches a series of spikes and blades for letters, curved deep and deeper into the skin, the eyes, forehead, scalp. Too obvious? Fuck you. It’s always too obvious to me.

Migraine a scratched out, scribbled mass that throbs with the beat of another cruel heart. An exploded view always never done exploding. Laser-etched permanently in pulsing grooves carved in places that only the migraine can uncover again and again. Migraine grammar twists tighter and tighter until nothing escapes the knot, not even meaning.

We would need new words to speak pain. Or maybe other words that can be recycled, repurposed. Some suggestions: ghost for the thing that walks through walls, appears and disappears, that no one else can see; haunt (verb) keeps you up at night with gibbering, screaming, moving objects, spooky action at a distance (how does an entry in a computer miles away affect the pain, my thyroid?); phantom (bodies, limbs, selves that contain pain, that make separate lives without us that only we can sense). Our new words are old words demedicalized.

Work published at Tin House, Electric Lit, Hobart, The Offing, Future Fire, The Toast. I research for Roxane Gay. | melissamoorer.com

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