The Wonderful World of Cosmesis

Cosmesis—the art of making artificial limbs look lifelike—has changed dramatically from the time when a ‘cosmetic’ hand might mean a piece of wood carved into the general shape of a hand until today when artificial hands—with freckles, veins, hair, and even tattoos—look so ‘real’ that many people cannot even distinguish between them and an actual hand.  From MILITARY INSTEP.

I like having a big table, the kind you can really spread out on, but I don’t own one. All I have are two small tables, and so I put them near each other and lay a piece of wall board over them, spanning the empty space, the unsupported middle, a middle that doesn’t exist without this make-shift leaf, this exact plane upon which my life rests as if my life where one big Thanksgiving turkey that everyone is coming to see, a matter of physics and grace that it doesn’t cave in, and with a good cloth over it, no one can tell the exactitude of placement, the precariousness underneath it all. In Sri Lanka you can buy a prosthetic foot cheap if you’re willing to go without a shoe. Here, it’ll be well shod, but it will cost you. Once you’re sitting at a table, no one sees your shoes anyway. If you travel to get here, you will be stopped at all security checkpoints; no one will believe it is an artificial foot or limb that sets off the buzzer. No one believes your tattoo of a 50’s hoola-girl with grass skirt dancing on sprayed on skin. If you get here I will ask you to sit on my unsteady table with your bare metal foot, your souvenir of global enterprise, stretched out for all to see. I will ask you to make your hoola-girl wiggle. Before we’re done, everyone will be baring what they once thought only amounted to scars. We will never get to the bird; our table won’t break, but it will buckle, and we will watch with amazement hoping to capture the moment before it snaps.

Laura McCullough | Mudlark No. 32
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