The Desiccated Heel – which has nothing at all to do with the Royal Wedding


At first you don’t even notice. You’ve been sitting with your leg tucked under your body, maybe even engaging in some activity you absolutely love, absorbed – reading, playing a board game with your family, writing a report for work, talking to your friends about Afghanistan and human rights — but at the same time, as you sat, you unwittingly cut off the blood flow to that limb. The leg goes completely dead without your knowledge. Wooden. De-animated. Zombiefied. Living – but dead.

At some point, you try to get up and get a cup of tea or tuck your child sweetly into bed or get ready for work, and you realize the limb has disappeared. It can’t support you. You totter for a moment, surprised. You see the leg, but don’t feel the leg. It seems really and truly gone. You experience a moment of panic. You think you’ll fall and you counterbalance your weight onto the other, feeling limb to hold yourself up. You can hold yourself up this way – but it doesn’t feel comfortable or right. Eventually, the pain starts. And it really hurts – the pins and needles sensation of blood flowing again to the disused limb. The reanimation is painful and distressing. You hop around hoping that will make the blood flow in more quickly, the pain recede faster, normalcy and your ability to balance effectively return ASAP. But it takes time. The limb sluggishly comes around and at first feels clumsy and awkward as you hobble across the floor. Eventually you regain full use and feeling, but it doesn’t happen immediately. The body has to do what the body has to do to bring itself back to a healthy state – as does your creative soul.

I’ve needed to reanimate my creative self. I’d unwittingly cut that part of me off as I curled myself around being a loving and supportive spouse/adult child/sister, nifty worker-bee, really good mom, true friend, involved and educated citizen, and great care provider for my special needs and chronically ill child. The normal mess and noise of life, plus some extra special bonus stuff chance tossed my way. And man, waking that deadened part up has really hurt at times. I’ve been doing some awkward hopping around. Trying to rush the feeling back in and push the pain out. But time is passing, the clock has kept ticking, and feeling is slowly coming back.

Zombie Salon feels like a fresh bag of blood each time we meet. A nice transfusion of energy and creativity. Last night, over a pitcher of margaritas created from my dear brother-in-law Dave’s Galaxy’s Best recipe, salonites explored the question of pretension versus brilliance in writing. The impact of a writer’s personal struggle with mental illness on their work. I’m trying to work my way through Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace and though he was undoubtedly, scary brilliant, I can’t help feel how torturous it must have been to inhabit his brain. Think so densely and deeply. Our salon conversation ranged from James Joyce, William Faulkner, Thomas Pynchon, Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. Writers who created with such power, but their work was also laced with such personal pain, paranoia even.

Salonites decided that each of us would bring a piece of writing that somehow grabs us to the next salon that related to mental illness. Interesting assignment. So much to choose from out there as so many writers seem tortured and haunted. And Sandy, our resident group psychologist, offered to provide a list of books from her field that actually use experts from famous writers as descriptors of various mental health conditions. We’ll post that on Salon Z for anyone who might be curious.

Why we want to write and what do we feel the process of writing accomplishes for us was also explored. Some of the salonites like to write, and others prefer not to write creatively. For some, writing helps bring order. For others, they use writing as a medium to explore and expose truth.

The purpose of Zombie Salon is to nurture personal creativity, regardless of the way an individual may choose to express that – writing, photography, reading, dressing, dancing, event planning… This is turning out to be such a positive and productive experience. I think folks should start local chapters everywhere. Get yourselves out there. Talk. Think. Share. Challenge yourself. Scare yourself. In honor of Zombie Salon and Salon Z, I’m trying to write some zombie themed poetry … so here’s one to start using homophones. Enjoy or throw up – your choice —

Death March

Zombie soled and moving stiffly
on puffed and purpled feet
bits of gangrenous toes
trail of slick and desiccated heel

If through her visionless eyes
she were able to review the path she’d taken
she’d see the pound of flesh
left behind

long to retrieve it
and make herself whole

Zombie souled and walking briskly
on spiked and sparkling sandals
flash of manicured toes
trail slick with disappointments she can’t heal

If through her visionless eyes
she were able to review the path she’d taken
she’d see the pound of flesh
left behind

long to retrieve it
and make herself whole

@ Julie Ayers, April 2011


About Julie Ayers

Seasoned apocaloptimist, keen admirer of well-placed words, fierce mama bear of extra special children, black belt hugger, and advocate for a fashion rebellion which elevates the most human of hearts to socially acceptable outerwear.

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