Sunday, May 4, 2008

Suddenly, Briefly Very Much In My Body

Yesterday the mist was akin to a fine drizzle that stopped short of rain. That is, we walked without umbrellas and stopped frequently to visit with neighbors, their dogs, certain patches of flowers (pansies, bluets, late daffodils and "dandys"). We went nearly as far as the cemetery - stopping short at the crabapple with its buds unfolding like a family of crepuscular moths awaking - and turned for home. This is a matter of what we did, but also how one recalls it. In other words, language.

Subjected to photography at the meeting, five hours straight, I was aware that some spirit fled out of me, leaving a hollow man, a matter of mere surface to be viewed against other surfaces. I yearned to reach out, draw some of that essence back which floated just outside me as if wary of being captured by the camera's - its dim clicks and hisses - manipulation, its reorganization, of light. Yet later, when applause directed at me rippled and barked, and the faces turned like a sea of empty plates, I was suddenly, briefly very much in my body, like coals in a stove as the sun rises.

Slowly one's sense of form changes. I am aware of my body largely in terms of the claims put upon it by others. Even to write that - a matter of using my fingers mostly - feels like it verges on betrayal, yet of whom or what I can't - won't - say. There are elements that burn, one I envision as a pale green powder that sparkles and smokes when subject to heat, that moment before flame erupts elongated as if to say that hesitation is not always corruptive. The center of any room is not as desirable as the space nearer its walls.

At the same time - digression eschews forgiveness - horses. Walking yesterday past the grave of the first one I rode ever reminded me that I am increasingly content, conscious of grace, and this has nothing to do with my everpresent confusion and overall idiocy. Sophie asked what the horse's name was and I couldn't answer though still recall the experience of being so high off the ground while gazing down into the grassy dirt at my shadow, which seemed somehow more substantial than I was, an observation which was comforting then and - forgive the moment which aspires to epiphany, won't you - would remain so for many years. There was Ruffian, of course, and now this one (Eight Belles (and this I believe is the first time in this series that news has factored in - and then why)) who died yesterday. When I was twenty, I wrote a poem about horses that some editor somewhere said they "came very close" to publishing, and I remember not the disappointment of its not being made public that way, but rather only how I could not not take pleasure in the many "L" sounds contained within in its lines (they were lines, not sentences) and how that, too, was a moment of grace, not recognized as such, but with tendril shoots still flowering, now.

Yet the poem also broached, for me, sexual ambivalence, a specific anguish that accompanied any effort to love with and within and from this body which felt broken indeed, not to mention unworthy of most reciprocations - it (the poem, not my body) said, or I aimed for it to say, that there are consequences, even dread ones, to being in one's body. As now, there are things one will not say (I think here of the word "recover"), or only circle, lay hints against like white stones, inevitably a useless trail but one that's followed (or followable (fallible)), even now, through these twenty, not-so-bad, sentences.

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