Body Beautiful


Last week, as the surgeon drilled into my ankle to remove a bursa, and started stitching up, I thought of the addition of another trophy to the body.

I thought of the days of youth when one stared long at the mirror, took long to set every strand of hair, and worried about the oncoming pimple. And how it didn’t matter anymore.

With time, one kept adding stitches on cuts over the face and limbs; invasion by acne causing great anguish and tears and heartbreak; a wisdom tooth removed, a false tooth added; inches added to the belly; mesh inserted to hold the abdominal muscles; loss of hair which once took up much time in front of a mirror; a wart here, a cyst there; possibly a stent or a bypass into the arteries of the heart; or possibly a steel rod in a limb or knee replacement; stretch marks after delivery for some; first signs of a wrinkle. One wonders what happened to the body beautiful.

Narcissus, by Michelangelo Caravaggio

And I thought of Narcissus, the character from Greek mythology who was so proud of his own beauty and so much in love with his own reflection that he couldn’t leave it until he died. What if Narcissus had lived on and watched his beautiful body transforming into a collage.

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