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I have been through the fire of psychosis and suicide – stressed and brittle – a thousand fractures – facets and crystals scratching the delicate nerve endings of my soul and I have felt the pain of eyes twitching screaming silently as demons suck the pith from my mind and I can’t make eye contact because they’re going to get me – they’re watching me and I’m catatonic with terror. Stillness my mind has gone blank and I lie rigid – my mind has gone away. I see the doctors and they give me drugs which make my muscles spasm – my tongue spasms in my mouth and I slur.

I am rigid – I am kawagane on the outside and shingane on the inside. I am the sword. I have been folded and formed. I took 60 tablets of paracetamol and I lay on the bathroom floor with my stomach in spasms. I was in hospital for 5 days. They took arterial blood -- which is fucking painful. Death wiped the vomit from my face.

My mother died 2 months later. I felt the fire. I held my mother’s hand as she panted for breath in the last hour of her life. I kissed her cheek once Death had sliced her from life. I watched them lower her into share my father’s grave – him below her above. Their chemicals wash together as the rain filters through the soil– the worms eating one then the other – they merge as they merged in life to make me. They become indistinguishable. They turn to soil. They turn to goop. They turn to plant life. They join the dance of chemistry and life. They feed the worms that feed the birds. They give the blackbirds the energy to sing.

I have felt the fire of suffering, madness and loss and now I swim. I am the sword dowsed. Yaki-ire followed by yaki-modashi whereby the blade is heated to a lower temperature and dowsed to relieve the stresses caused by yaki-ire.

I slip into the cool water. It is blue and clear. I submerge, take my first stroke whilst exhaling, surface and inhale and I repeat and repeat and my brain makes serotonin as I exercise. Do I push it today? Do I race the clock? Stroke, surface, inhale, submerge, stroke. The water across my skin -- no longer cold as the exercise begins to simmer – chiffon and silk across my skin, surface and inhale, submerge. The light from the dying day dancing at the end of the lane and I turn into it and I’m dazzled. I blink behind my goggles, submerge, exhale and listen to the bubbles rise past my ears. I swim and see on the pool floor the faint shadow of a swimmer ahead and in the next lane. I see the shadow tracking their movement – the light glitters underwater, surface and inhale. When I push the pace my mind can sink into a zen rhythm, stroke breath, stroke breathe, just pushing my body. A Tai Chi flow of muscles and peace, no thought just movement and flow, fluid rippling - ripping time and memory. Sometimes I meander, stroke breath, stroke breathe, I saunter through the water luxuriating in the sensation, swim deep, surface breath, go deep – no hurry – feel the moment. The tingle on my nerve endings as waves and currents pass over my body, slipping through the water. I am the sword, crystallized part martensite, hardened steel. I am yakiba - the tempered edge - ready for life.