It had to be the April of the year I turned eight. I returned to school with a different body after six months off recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident.
It's a Catholic school of the early 1960's. Prayer, music, choir, diction, posture and Latin in addition to the school subjects regular humans learn. The desk is rough under my legs and textured with scratches, grooves, ridges, ink, wood polish... the very odour of comportment.
Sustained silent reading is one of our privileges for 30 minutes every afternoon. I don't remember the book; I don't remember the time; I don't remember the day. I remember the uncurtained windows, the streaming sun, the shuffle sounds of 30 girls in serge uniforms... and I remember the word: exsanguinate.
The sentence stopped there and went no further; a road falling into a ditch; a rock falling into a well. I am undaunted and I feel that feeling without knowing what it is I am feeling. I am sweating... just a little... and then there is my pounding heart, and a breathlessness I have come to know as the overture to deep engagement--crossing over. I see the pieces moving in slow motion, a rearranging, nuanced and subtle... I feel the click of comprehension... ex: out of; sanguine: blood... of course!! Exsanguinate means: bleed to death ! I catch myself grasping not only meaning, but also how I got there. There is nothing beyond me now... I can move inside a word.