my brother’s body

Recently, I was contacted by an artist interested in adapting two of my essays, “The Strange Flowers” and “Partial Match” into physical (think dance) theater.

I cried when I read her email. So much of my work is about giving my brother a body or donating my body to him, and it felt like I had manifested it, like my magic resurrection spell had leaked out into the world, dance being the ultimate embodied expression.

Ever since, I have been preoccupied with who will ‘play’ my brother. What will that body look like? How will it move? What size will it be relative to the ‘me’ on the stage? Will it be tattooed? It isn’t so much that I worry about the body being ‘right’ or ‘exact.’ However, embodiment has been the whole point of these works–the loss of it, the need for it, the burden of it. It’s strange to me that when I finally get get this wish fulfillment, this second coming of my brother, I have to let go of his body.

If I am honest, I want him up there on that stage. Not a clone. Him.

It never occurred to me worry about how I would be portrayed or by whom.

That is, until my sister texted me, “I want to dance in it!” Meaning, she wants to dance my part. She wants to play me. She is a dancer, and she has her own story to tell about our brother. When “Partial Match” published, she called me “her hero.”

I know she is reacting from the heart. She’s excited. She wants to support me.

And yet.

So much history. When my sister came forward about our brother, nobody thought to ask me if it happened to me, too, and I got the message loud and clear: I was not getting called to the witness stand; my testimony didn’t matter.

But that’s not the whole truth. I could have spoken up. I could have told, too. I have often revisited that moment, trying to understand my younger self, but little girl Karrie did not know what I know, and I wind up forging my own history. At the time, I didn’t understand the consequences of keeping silent, but I did understand that nobody wanted to know what happened to me.

Over the years and in so many ways, I got obliterated from the record–the same record in which my sister’s name, my sister’s story, got recorded. It has made for a twisted dynamic.

There is no chance my sister will play me, so I am trying to let these feelings go.

And yet, I keep coming back to this: What does it say about me that I want my brother resurrected, playing his part all over again on that stage, but I cannot bear anyone except a stranger playing mine?