Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The French Word for Scar is Cicatrice

I think cicatrice is a much more beautiful word than scar. The word scar sounds harsh and painful, like the wound that made it, not like the healed up marks that remain. Cicatrice sounds soothed, with a memory of the harshness and nothing else, closed up on either side with a soft s sound. Left open at one end, the English word feels incomplete, raw, still part wound, open flesh.

I like the succinctness of the word cicatrice, the feeling it gives that the wound is over, healed. It is complete. But it is still there. Between those soft closed s's there is still a hard guttural to stop the tongue up, a post-dental stop to push past, and a lateral glide to push through before the scar closes fully.

Almost seven months ago, when I picked up my life and shoved it into boxes to travel 3000 across this country, I also tried to put my cat in a box to take her with me. I picked her up, tucked her legs against me, and tried to shove her in before she noticed what I was doing. Her back leg thrashed out, creepy cat toes and claws spread wide, and she dragged two of her claws down my chest.

When I got her in the carrier, I folded a paper towel into my dress, and began my trip across America. The scratches healed--probably before I arrived in New Hampshire--but the scars still remain. Two long curved white lines on my chest, seven months later. Closed up, like a cicatrice, not like scar. Completed, but still there.

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