Today, in the very last half hour of a strenuous carpentry project, I managed to drill my left hand with a screw gun – plow it like a harrow in soil.
Oh, the blood! It fell in big thick bright red drops. Right on the fresh redwood treads of the stairs I had built. It’s a good thing they’ll be painted.
How red my blood was! I don’t believe I’ve ever see anything redder than my blood this afternoon.
I sat down in the sun and worked on stemming the flow with flimsy paper tissues. It kept coming and coming, but finally stopped, which is when the pain started.
I ignored that and lifted up my hand and stared at it in wonder – which immediately brought to mind that stunning scene in Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, when the knight, played by the ethereal Max Von Sydow, who has just been fatally duped by Death, has the balls, the nobility, to lift up his hand in the light of a church window and stare at it in wonder. “This is my hand,” he murmurs, “I can move it, feel the blood pulsing through it. The sun is still high in the sky and I, Antonius Block, am playing chess with Death!”
And he smiles. It’s a slight smile, fleeting, sad. I believe “wan” might work here.
But oh, how I loved that man for smiling at all! Because I thought, even then in my college days when I first saw the film, “You’re playing chess with Death, Max Von Sydow? Aren’t we all!” And I further thought, “May we have the nobility to delight in the blood moving though our bodies till the last second. Like you, Maxie!”
Years ago I heard a poet call the living body, “that castle of blood.”
And I suppose the Soul is the Queen of it.
Sitting there today, though, in the sun, staring at my gouged hand, I had a visitor. A fly landed oh so lightly on a finger and sniffed around – for my blood, no doubt, and the wound it came out of.
And I thought, or even said, “Sorry, Little Lady, but I’m not quite ready to have my body used as a nursery by a hundred maggots wriggling toward flyhood. Now, blow!”
And I whisked her off me.