A Trauma Theory

A TRAUMA THEORY
Amy J. Sprague

It was my third year in college when I first heard the term string theory.
I remember moving forward slightly, waiting anxiously for what he’d say next,
and as the professor strolled over
quantum physics and how this theory could explain all the forces of nature—
what it could reveal, the dark mysteries it could possess—
I know that I felt the spindles in my irises unraveling like
a sketched star in reverse, and then it connected to words in my brain,
and then to the angles in my fingers, the shoots in my nervous system,
in my every response and reaction—all of us these bodies
in cubic space, specks in the ether, strung together, moving each other,
causing and effecting—
And all of this happened not out of belief
but from the simplicity of proofs.
I know that I felt the chemistry in my brain spark,
and that these strings moved around my faulty
synapses and unnatural rewiring. I could smell my hair burning.
My amygdala had a pulse and my usual emotional responses went static—
perhaps it was my first touch with existentialism. Or perhaps it was my first touch with faith.
But I lost the comfort of a small ignorance and I was exposed,
and all at once, in the back of the room at my desk, I pictured, in the span of a thread,

my mother
repelling me, twisting always away from me, rejecting my nature, too;
I saw that her wiring was shifted, deformed,
that she was out of alignment, there was no rhythm left
because of the laws between her choices and
her actions—their causes and effects had streamlined down to me
like a shared, infected vein

and I think
that was when I first stepped away
from believing in the goodness in everyone
from believing in anything in anyone;
all the pain, the damage, the stripping, the mutating that we can do to one another—
victims at the mercy of insignificance and fear,
victims that are altered weak—their nature dissected;
and then there’s dark matter—that of which we dream is binding the stars
together in our heavens over our heads—really is so heavy in its own darkness,
neither emitting nor absorbing light.
That was when I saw a child down this hallway, I saw scraps of a little girl’s favorite dress,
the tops of her buckle shoes,
and she was motionless, shocked so still
that neither God nor any proof could bring her out.
She suffers in her damaged science, spending the rest of her life
trying so desperately to reconnect to a theory.

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