Tag Archives: Embodied

It Happened So Long Ago

Did the fire in my brain come before or after the fire
in my mouth? My mother will never tell, and the records
have all been lost. All we know is there was burning, a pyre,
nerves gone haywire; we know there was a scream, a cry, a cord
anchoring one end of a wire at a fixed place, flashpoint
channeled from this, here, toward infinite possibility.
And there are scars. Of course there are scars. Even at knifepoint,
when the scars are cut away, new scars come. Serenity
comes with disregarding the scars, the old face, the new face,
whatever. I’m usually not the one who has to look
at it. I live behind the face and forget what’s erased,
what’s seen. I forget my hair is blue, that my smile is crooked
to one side, as if wryly amused. When you look at me,
I look back. When you smile, I smile, too, happy to be seen.

La Vessie Est Plein

The moon tonight is shaped like a spoon, cradling a droplet
of dark, heavy and solid. At sea, the weeds pump themselves
full of air, floating lighter than water, are carried by
currents helping them move from here to there, from this to that.
The weeds are called wrack — beach wrack, rock wrack, toothed wrack, bladder wrack —
as if they are wracked with guilt, pain, sobs, grief. I was sobbing
tonight, again, with grief that comes and goes like tides, holding
me back or holding me up, I don’t know. The tides lift up
the sea’s air bladders and shift them gently, in currents slow
and strange, like water dirigibles, trailing messages.
On land, the idea of the bladder flips and inverts,
carrying liquid, like a wineskin, sloshing or flaccid.
A bladder is feminine in French: la vessie est plein.
Let us speak plainly. In English, bladder is gender neutral.

Drawing on Skin

Suzanne pushed her breasts up, soft globes of petaled skin,
and arched her neck back, eyes closed as if half asleep.
From one angle she looks gracefully relaxed, chin
tucked under, edging toward being a boneless heap,
some final abandonment. While from another,
the quiet conceals nothing of her triumph,
her glorious defiance. Why should a mother
not trace lace and lines, not carve from her flesh giants,
not be beautiful in whatever way she is?
Let women sprout orchids with open throats, lilies
chained around the necks of tigers. Go forth, she says,
exist as art. Coconut milk drips from you, bees
honey-dance by your lips. There is a heat
muscles knot over bone, burning beneath each teat.

Not Pretty Enough for You

It’s hard to tell — Do the beauty’s brilliant blue eyes open
to reveal the red-rimmed fatigue of a demon sketched out,
or is it the reverse? Does the demon open its grin,
cracking through the smooth lotioned skin, the painted perfect pout,
and loosen the teeth that ache from being held in so tight,
cooped up and forced inside the mouth too small for them to fit?
Or does the woman know that demon far too well, and fight
to contain it, exhausted from trying, and crying quit;
looking numb because that’s what is left as she throws her all
into armor and elegance? All I know is her hair
is almost perfect, and the same no matter which face calls
to mine: her tresses dark and light, shadows like a black bear’s
fur, highlights bright as the edge of a wave in the deep dusk,
small loose tufts floating free around her face scented with musk.

Burning Hands

I’ve never been to Burning Man. I hear it’s hot — desert
dust & sky both wide open as if they can’t bear to touch;
folk knotted into clothes because they can’t bear to wear much;
even clouds shred into wisps that barely cover, & flirt
with the dirt of a far off horizon. Hot. & then cold.
Either way, it’s intense, & that’s before adding in fires
& lovers / towers of flowers / stegosauri & spires /
the glowing teeth / awkward bots / glare / creatures / cheers raw & bold /
the bear / the bent / the beasts / the burning / the burn. My hands hurt
too much to touch you, too much to touch myself; skin gone thin,
gone rough & harsh, skin that throbs & pulses while dancers spin.
Sometimes my hands throb like this after drum circles, alert
& alive, remembering the beat. Today, they raise prayers,
lifting up, a flaming statue of palms cradling air.

On Making Beautiful Monsters

Don’t let a poet into your Build-a-Body workshop!
There’s no telling what they’ll try to put together, and
for all the wrong reasons. They won’t care if mushroom bodies
dangle or dip or jut up like combs and wattles. Feathers
will have to be included, of course, and vibrissae. (Who
cares that they belong on different phylogenetic
branches of the evolutionary tree?) A poet
might vajazzle a cloaca with ommatidia
just because they like the sparkle and bounce of the words, but
trust me, you do not want to see those words put together.
Pray they don’t add a sprinkling of blastomeres for some cleavage,
or knit neuroglia over biofilm for a net
to scrunch into a purple nictitating membrane. What
it comes down to is no one quite wants a poet’s bodies.