Two Scintillating Poems to Stir Your Thoughts

Body Double

“Seeing promotes understanding, and understanding promotes the most practical kind of body education possible.” — Dr. Roy Glover, chief medical director, Bodies Revealed exhibit.
The body can’t get more naked than this –
peeled back like an orange
to the pulp, to the once-fluid
pulse, muscles the color of firebrick,
their topography filleted,
displayed like a prize Kingfish.
You should be swimming up
into the Spartina grasses now,
not raising hairs and questions:
What caused you to lose the talling
tides and land here, stripped
to stun our eyes?
Oh, how you wow the nail-biters,
who fight the tautening
line, repulsed yet riveted
by your graceful finning,
by the strangely familiar odds
and ends of this human catch:
A bladder deflated
and gray, a granite lung,
anemic strings of vein dried
and curling, a once-proud penis
wizened now and gone to seed.
“Spleen,” “Ovary,” “Third Ventricle of the Brain,”
I nod and twitch
my way through each display,
no longer smug
in the rhythm of my breathing.
I look in, look out,
but cannot turn away
from the glossy eye
in which I see my face.
I touch your bone
and feel my finger on my own,
ask for your name
though I know it is mine.

 

 

Stray Dog

Someone once tried to own him,
gave him a name, a drift of pine straw for a bed,
set out a bowl and chained him to a tree.
It took two men to get the collar on.
All that bucking and whining —
the beast could not make peace
with the thing, picked at it for days.
No one knew its true burden,
how wearing it pressed
the dog’s brain till it bled,
how it lade the divine lightness
of being born without a soul.

 

Libby Swope Wiersema

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