Now I want to tell you about shifting dimensions / it happens mostly in childhood when everything happens / in your bed where other things happen / it happens at any time of a full day for it has nothing to do with time or it is out of time / it happens like this:

First your whole body goes a little numb like it has come under sleep / like all of your thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves tightening themselves at once / and you lay very still for fear of the pain of waking too soon

Second you close your eyes whether or not you are sleepy for the functioning of your eyelids has ceased and opening is an intentional act whereas closing is the true state of the eyes

Third the bed wobbles or your body does / the room spins or your body does / like everything is on a slight tilt / like a spun quarter nearly out of its spin / you dig your fingers into the bedsheets to steady yourself but the wobbling goes on for it is not of the bed nor of the world nor of anything physical / this is the moment of shifting

Fourth the other dimension whispers in unfamiliar multitudes / you don’t see them or touch them for the shifting of dimensions is not a shifting of the discernable body / for sound waves of any dimension are received through many points of reception and travel along many mediums and your body is one such medium / and you hear though you do not understand / you are an eavesdropper / an interloper / you’re at a door and you weren’t invited to cross the threshold / and you wait outside and listen to the voices on a tilt / to the language not yours / but the sound of it all is everywhere around you and you fall into it

Fifth you fall into it and then you fall away / your body still exists and your brain does too and your brain interrupts / it shouts stop / maybe the vocal multitudes hear this and they get quiet / or maybe the moment of conscious interjection is enough to tilt the earth rightways again / or maybe this is a limited power that begins and ends / no matter for the shift has reshifted and you live again inside your body

/            /            /

It happens more and regularly until you are maybe ten / then it is sparing until you are sixteen and then it almost never happens / and between twenty and thirty it happens not once that you can remember / but then at thirty one it does happen again / just once / you don’t know why except that you ask to shift one more time and you ask to be opened up again / who did you ask—you don’t know / maybe your body / maybe the universe / maybe the multitudes of the fourth dimension / maybe you don’t care / maybe it doesn’t matter / for anyway you shift / lying there in your bed and in your body of thirty-one years / you are not afraid for you know what it is and you feel open again when you had been closed for so long

You call your mom in the morning and you tell her mom I have shifted dimensions / for you have never told her before / your mom listens and in her pause you hear recognition / you hear her settling herself into you and you are relieved / there is no incredulity or worry / your mom tells you that she did it too when she was a child

This is a revelation / how we inherit our bodies and our mothers / how the cells are a container for the habits and idiosyncrasies of the self / stored away and passed on—for our cells come from our mothers’ cells and our grandmothers’ and so on and so on / for the body is a mimicry and a memory of the many other bodies in our long familial lines—and how we must inherit our ancestral tragedies too / there are cellular containers for that too / and our bodies remember too those traumas of our grandmothers / every daughter continuing the work to heal the pain lines way back to her first mother / for we store every memory even if we don’t remember

Of course your mother would have escaped her traumas in the fourth dimension / of course
you would have inherited this shifting body / and what else have you inherited / what else comes down to you through your body / your body which is how the universe knows itself / how the divine knows itself through you

/            /            /

Julian of Norwich in her thirty-first year was sick and in her mother’s house / everyone thought she was going to die but instead she was shown many visions of the universe that sometimes looked like Jesus Christ / and she heard the voice of the universe which is sometimes called the voice of god / and she sat at the lip of an opening of herself and slipped into the next dimension where she found a hazelnut in the palm of her hand / and in that hazelnut she saw the nature of love which is to say that if the hazelnut has been made it is loved / for the act of creation is also an act of love and if it is made it is worthy of its making and of its state of belovedness / for all made things are beloved / for the universe lives inside of the little thing of the hazelnut / and it is beloved and it is small / practically nothing / and both of these things can be true at the same time

If the hazelnut contains the universe then it must also contain black holes / and if the body is a conduit of the universe and there are holes of the body then where in the body is the event horizon / where in the body are we eradicated / Julian of Norwich went inside herself and talked to Jesus Christ for if nothing escapes a black hole then all things and all manner of thing live there and all manner of thing is well and shall be well as Julian of Norwich heard in her time of slipping

/            /            /

In my birth there was a black hole of my body that sat at the base of my spine and this is called spina bifida / this small splitting / this sac of spinal fluid and nerve endings and cord that should be inside of the body but spilled outside of mine / doctors with their hands and their metal tools fused the vertebral bone and closed the hole / but before I was closed I was an opening with no escape / which is called a DEFECT and a CONGENITAL DISORDER / which requires repair and correction / which is a disruption and a deviation and a misbehavior of the body / which should always be closed and always whole at birth

My open spine was an invitation to the entering of death for we assume that inside of every black hole is the death of our bodies / for a hole reminds us that we are fragile and susceptible to a great crushing and collapse first and foremost / we must control the uncontrollable body to disinvite death but here is a problem: death is in the body anyway all of the time and there is no control for that

/            /            /

What if a body of disability / a body that is open and uncontrollable / is also a slipping body / a body that shifts among many ways of knowing the universe / for there is not only one way to know the universe or the self in the universe

Spina bifida is an opening of the body’s spine but what if it is also a point of reception / one kind of receptacle and mode of revelation / a conduit and a connection / how many other bodies since the first body were opened / and are open now and knowing of these other ways / their bodies disabled or disordered / their bodies uncontrollable in many ways and each of these a way to receive the universe

/            /            /

We assume that we would die inside of any black hole but what if we sometimes survive and what would we find there in the survival abyss

I survived my split spine for it was made to be closed but would I have survived a continual opening—

This is unanswerable / do not try

/            /            /

Understand this—there has never been a time during which spina bifida has not existed / this opening has been open in at least one of one thousand babies throughout human history and prehistory—in the bones of the Taforalt caves in northern Morocco some ten thousand years ago / the bones of the Bahriyah Oasis in Egypt and the Olmec statues of southern Mexico some three or four or five thousand years ago / we have been open through spina bifida since maybe the first humans / maybe even in the first one thousand human babies there was one baby with a hole in her spine / and did that hole close up on its own or did someone puncture the sac to drain the fluid or remove the sac by severing or try to push back what they did not want to see come out

/            /            /

When Nicolaas Tulp wrote his Observationes Medicae in the seventeenth century he dedicated all of chapter thirty to spina dorsi bifida / he described this opening better than anyone had before him: nerve branches so varied / scattered throughout the tumor

Doctors before him tried to correct the DEFECT by puncturing the sac with little holes to drain the fluid—always the baby would die this way / Doctor Tulp tried to remove the sac completely—this baby died too

In his sketch of spina bifida the baby’s gown is rolled up to expose the back / arms still clothed / a ruffle around the collar / the baby’s back is cut open from between the shoulder blades down to the tailbone / skin folded over / unfurled like an open tulip / the split of the spine visible where the sac would have been / the gap of almost-spine / we see only the round back of baby’s head / delicate hair / the right foot kicked up / small bend of the knee

Eventually Observationes Medicae will be called The Book of Monsters by future medical generations but never by Doctor Tulp / eventually too doctors will stop trying to correct the DEFECT through removal of the protruding sac of spinal elements / eventually they will learn to fill the hole and close it up / arrange the spine just so / just how it should be / this is a legacy of my body / an inheritance that reaches me from the earliest moments of spina bifida

/            /            /

In the human body there are thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves / thirty-one pairs flanking either side of the spinal column / thirty-one living wires waiting to communicate their aliveness to the entirety of the body / when some nerves are quiet / when some do not speak / there is more space to listen / for in the quiet we may hear what would otherwise go unheard / how many quiets might any one person have / how often do our living nerves crack then buzz then fold themselves over to silence

In my body of spina bifida there are dead nerves / nerve endings that do not live and have nothing to say / I don’t know how many of my thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves are dead / I can only tell you about the places of my skin that do not feel / this is a way to section the body into function and dysfunction / not a whole body but parts of a body / never a body of completeness

Try to answer this: what has been spoken which you have not heard since you were not open / would you ever envy the way some bodies are open and receive the [ ] of a hole / would you ever accept the breaking of your own body so that you might also have an open body

If you touch me I will feel the pressure of you in the formation of muscles under my skin but I will not feel the sensation of you in the silence of these neural networks / if you touch me my body will speak to you but you will have to be open to a new kind of speaking and you will have to also open yourself and you will have to listen with care

/            /            /

Julian of Norwich was in between dimensions when she talked to Jesus Christ and maybe I believe her / maybe in her sickness Julian of Norwich had a body that opened up or perhaps even collapsed in on itself and in the collapse of bodily architecture was revealed the plexus which connects the body to the nonbody / a cluster of nerves where the body feels the nonbody

I would like to say that spina bifida happens in the nonbody but that would not be true for spina bifida is a condition of the body full stop / there is no other place for spina bifida to occur and so the body in its opening must therefore be the center of communication between body and nonbody / Julian of Norwich did not have spina bifida as far as I know but she did have a bodily sickness and in her sickness she found an opening through which she glimpsed something other and she did not flee for she fell into the other and she saw it was beautiful and she called it love and she saw that the human body though fragile and corruptible was beloved for it was created and what is created is good enough

In her sickness Julian of Norwich suffered bodily and she remembered her suffering and she believed that suffering was a way to know the love of god for when we suffer god feels our suffering / but it is more than this / Julian of Norwich believed that when we suffer god also suffers with us and this is called divine love which is another way to say compassion / this is how we remember our union with god

But is there anyone who remembers the suffering of opened-up babies / does it always hurt when the body’s insides come out / is it suffering if a baby has nothing to compare to her open spine / has never known a closed spine / who can say if there is more suffering for those who dwell inside spina bifida or for those who witness the dwelling / if the root of suffering exists in attachment then is attachment a kind of closing and are we too attached to the closing of our structures even though we were so open when we were born / so untethered

/            /            /

This is suffering and it is not suffering / this is painful and it is not painful / there is only suffering in what we make UNORDINARY / in the ABNORMAL / the DEFECT / there is only suffering in how it might be and how it could be if only it were like that or that or that / there is only suffering in the vacuum that exists around good enough where nothing but perfection may exist / if a DEFECT is real it is only real in that vacuum

I say this to you with my body which is defective / which has suffered and suffers still / which survives / which is whole / which is wholly ordinary and common unto me / which is alive whether or not it was ever meant to be

If the body wants to be open could you let it be open / could you let it be / for remember there is grace in letting a thing be itself / or would you revile the opening / would you shun or disgust or run from the widening hole

Or would you sit at the edge of the hole / sit and listen and not flee

/            /            /


I’ve classified myself and shaped my worth by my bones, by the skeletons of the people I used to be, and by the bodies of the people who left their marks on me.

Nervous System

The neurologist says, The world must be dreamed
before it can be seen—

Poems from the Centrifuge Brain Project

In this way, we became our mothers, / anticipating future from structure, / believing in the latest breakthrough revelation / concerning what happens to our bodies / and our fate.