Stop. It’s mute. You are falling into the cave of your scream.
Jam your eyes shut! Hear no evil, see no evil, just relax.
Never mind that acid is pirouetting on your skin. You know
that something more than smoke is rising in your throat but
you’re nothing but a photograph, silent and still, waiting
for someone, anyone, to pull you from from this Jesus position,
palms nailed to an elusive cross, eyes refusing heaven. Yet you
are not thinking of Jesus, except to use his name in vain. The
thought melts in, you are standing exactly like that Vietnamese
girl. You hate that now napalm makes sense. You don’t pray,
but maybe this time you do, hoping that you will stop living
in this photograph but unprepared for how much it hurts to stop.
May I just reassure my readers that am I insinuating that
my accident compares to a napalm experience. It’s just
that the pain in this photograph feels more real now.
I would also like to point out that Kim survived by ripping
her clothes off. You see, as soon as I caught fire, I realised
that there would be no way for me to get my clothes off.
not only was I wearing a leotard but there was a layer
of wide double-sided tape covering my entire torso.
I suppose this image speaks to me more these days
because of my time in Vietnam (as a resident, not a tourist).
I love my words but I feel that anything I try to say
to express my horror and sadness at what this
photograph represents would be flat and trite.
I’m not sure why I felt the need to include such a
long footnote on this post.