Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Bodies of Blue (Nov. 2003)

Body of my woman, I will live on
through your marvelousness.
My thirst, my desire without end,
my wavering road!

-- Neruda, “Body of A Woman”
transl. Robert Bly

Body of a guitar, body
of wave, body of a dream,
body of my work: This
daily braille on her
white sands resounds
the cuneiform which
swells beneath blue silk,
breakers I thought
were hers and are,
yet sigh from a far
more inward shore
where she writes me
every day. Once I knew
the body of a a guitar
well: Could play on
it so many songs:
Each day I spent hours
touching strings and
frets just so, minting
a music I felt deep
in the resonance of
the guitar I held
fast to my chest --
ditties and airs and
figures too delicate, too
temporary to ever
house in formal song.
My fishes ran free
and wild every night
I rowed that road-
weary guitar. I was
once so intimate
with that shape,
with its long dark
beach of frets,
its six tongues of
steel and gut, its
soundhole dark as
what’s between a
woman’s sighs, so
deep and wavelike
for the transit
of a song. --- I recall
when I changed my
strings (sometimes
twice a month) I’d roll
the old ones one by
one, keeping them
in case hard playing
caused a break (common).
Then I’d clean and polish
the rosewood veneer,
rubbing free old sweat
and pick-marks. What
a marvelous bed was
in that guitar when
I strummed fresh
new strings, as if
clean white linens
had been tucked into
my ear, so ready for
the next salt tossing,
the next hot chord.
I played guitar for
years, from puberty
through the long-
forestalled end of
my adolescence --
played with all intent
of someday Making It,
dreaming with one
hand in my pants of
bands and stages
in so many different
towns, of the ravening
attention of so many
women, all too willing
to take me home
to nurse all the stuff
in that soundhole
I couldn’t quite embrace.
For years a guitar was
my wood coracle as
I wove a tide of
excess, the body of
my song lost in the dark
body of wrong and
wronging expectations.
I did not so much
as cross that sea
of guitar music as
eventually drown in
it, or drown the
guitar which was
one ocean’s sail
and breeze. Some great
love died and dove
below after the last
band and I didn’t much
care to play guitar
any more. Oh, I still
have one and break
it out maybe twice
a year, but my fingers
are so stiff, no callouses
to play for long,
my memory of old
songs every shrinking,
their rages paling in
the mist. Yet what
amazes me is how
much I yet recall;
I can play an hour
through a repertoire
of riffs and noodles,
their sounds still
rich with heft
and hue. My hands still
command a music
that my heart
no longer hears,
and like beached fishes
the ditties flap and
flail upon the strings
until at last they still
and dry stiffly on
that beach she once
had walked on but
has sometime since
disappeared. I find
her near whenever
I now pick up my
pen and curve it
so on paper, the
scratch of nib blent
into the bluer and
more quiet ardor
of some music which
rises from the words,
mounting and descending
line by scrawly line.
None of that guitar's
distaff charms were
lost inside this
different boat; the
curve and cleft
of treble and bass
remain for all this
beach to praise,
and offers more salt,
more lotion and
more bottled draughts
from her wild blue well.
This morning is
windy and cold --
some front arrives at last --
I’m bundled with
a blanket in this easy
chair, running the
heat on low to
keep the kittens warmed.
This poem has rounded
the inward motions of
that woman standing
in the surf a thousand
lives ago -- my personal
Aprhodite, a woman
I hardly knew and
for three nights loved
as my heaven’s own.
She stood there in
the soft tide which
broke gray and warm
at first light, smiling
gently after hours of
impassioned love,
dreamy as I surely
stood in wonder on
that beach, my eyes
and inner ear now
so trained by that
wavelike curve I
recall in her breasts
and smile and rear,
her blue eyes of
such ocean merriment
and something further
down, an inwards
mere She sees me
from. Let’s call the
poem her altar booty
call, my hands long-
thrusting down the
page into that
soundhole to stroke
her welcoming rage.
This length is mine
as I lay with her here,
my heart’s dark
vowels sounding
in her every disappear,
and I am kissed nose
to twining toes
and all between
by an ocean of blue
body in which She
forever waits for me
to sing to her,
to hear the sound
of my pounding and
resounding and drowning,
in all I cannot say
to her just yet
though I surely try.
Someday this body
too will pass, thrown
like a book to the wave,
and I’ll sit on some
beach watching all
with my hands like
fishes flapping in
my lap, their motions
useless any more,
some other music
dreaming me
toward some further shore.


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