I don't like needles, so it says something about the level of pain and discomfort I've been experiencing that yesterday I had my first appointment for acupuncture. I was nervous and, as usual, my heart was beating fast. I was surprised that there was very little sensation from the insertion of the needles—except for one needle in my back, which stung. The acupuncturist was surprised by this. "Most people," she said, "don't feel the ones in their back." The only other pain was when she twitched the needles in my neck and hand to create a "strong sensation in the affected area." This caused, believe it or not, the sensation of being pricked by a pin. After the poking and twitching was over, I lay in the dark with waves of synthesizer music washing over me until I was almost relaxed. Relaxing is not my strong suit.
For the rest of the day, I was in an unusually good mood. In fact, I'm still in a good mood, despite a rather poor night's sleep. One thing that I absolutely believe about acupuncture is that it stimulates the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, one of the body's natural mood enhancers. For example, one class of antidepressants, SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), increase the flow of serotonin in the brain. As it happens, laboratory studies have shown that acupuncture does, in fact, increase the body's serotonin levels. Conclusion: acupuncture is an antidepressant.
I was sore and sleepless last night, but this morning, as I said, I'm feeling quite good. I have a couple more acupuncture appointments scheduled for next week. I'm still not crazy about the needles, but the results, so far, have been positive.
Meanwhile, there was a total eclipse of the moon last night. In England, we watched a total lunar eclipse last March 3rd. In Minnesota, the moon would already have been in eclipse at moonrise, but in England we saw the entire eclipse. This remarkable photograph of that eclipse was taken in London by the Associated Press. For wonderful photographs of last night's eclipse, check out these, taken in the Canadian Maritimes (from Chris's Book-a-Rama blog).
My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .
The frontispiece from Countee Cullen's The Black Christ and Other Poems (1929). Illustration by Charles Cullen. Click to enlarge. On...
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In early August, the director of the Northfield Public Library, Teresa Jensen, asked me to write a poem to be displayed prominently in the...