Saturday, August 7, 2010

75. Exceptions

What empties from a body
is breath, movement,
memory, the
moment of being
as if inviolate
and permanent,
the trick of believing it all was

when the body was good,
held itself up, walked
through an open door, fell
on contact with a curb,
hit the ground, blood
running into shapes
recalling a script
for a language you never knew,

and all that evidence
that that body will survive accumulates
among us
and creates this sense
of permanence, immanence of the human body
filled with the human self,
interstices overlapping interstices
of self, soul, body, and warm
flesh, which is what

we all are,
even in a drizzle, bumbershoot
raised to the grey sky, the pooling
of water into small oceans,
which we human can survey
with the disdain of gods,
despite our own tininess
and how the great shadow of night
buries us deep in sleep,

so it is that
our limitations define us (what
we cannot do, when
we stop doing something, how
we finally give up, but
there is no giving up, only
taking away) in a way
impossible to regret, and

to feel the sweet sorrow of
what we have lost is to experience
that slightest twinge that enters
a life only occasionally, that tells it
(us, you) that there is life there,
in that body of yours, in our
minds, pooling at the tips
of their fingers, and that loss
teaches us to be, to feel,
to reach into our small bodies,
without our hands, without
our eyes, and be what we always
are but rarely remember we are,

so a death is a reminder,
of what we have, and we hold on
to that small thing, because
anything bigger we might
not grasp, just as we cannot hold
the bodies of the dead for long,
even though I kissed my mother
goodbye in her coffin, as I had each
of my grandparents, even though
I played with the fingers of her hands
folded over each other, as if
she were resting, though she was
far beyond that, and
I remembered that

every body hurts every
body else and itself, this frail pliable
shell of ours cannot extend through time
without pain, failure of body, failure
of spirit, yet these structures of flesh and
skin and bone endure,
sometimes for so long that we must
appreciate the strength of the body
against the trials mere existence brings,

which is all to say
I am not equipped to console and do not know you well,
knew your father not at all, though we once
shared the same small space of a cave
I sang within,

and if I were singing now,
the sounds I would sing, in a broken warble,
reaching for a note I could never quite make,
would form the shapes of these words:

there is no reason to live
except not to die.

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