One of the essays is my final essay for my English seminar. I'm writing it about this prose poem that I read in the anthology and that I love. Mostly I love it because it does what I love poetry for doing: finding ways to take what's internal and flip it external, and finding ways to say the things you can't quite outright describe or state.
My body is too many children, they are all hungry at once. As I write this one of them bangs my thigh with a doll. I say, Stop that! But my body is headstrong. When it doesn’t get its way it throws a tantrum. One it kicked a wall and broke three toes. In winter it sulks because it can’t fly. And some days it won’t put on its clothes no matter where we’re going. It gets oily and sweats and sits in its mess, breathing, and I have to wash and comb it patiently and sing it little songs, and then it goes to the party
without me. I come later alone. I tell it it’s going to regret all that beaujolais. But my body is defiant, has another glass, and another, gets roaring. The next afternoon I have to phone and apologize. I say, Please excuse my body. There is no excuse for its conduct, but now it regrets the greedy gobbling of hors d’oeuvres, those lies about your gracious wife. Then I march it to the mirror in the bathroom and make myself stern and say sharply, I’m ashamed of you! When are you going to grow up? And my body hangs its head. But I’m suspicious. Should I trust it?
When we have a dentist appointment my body hangs back. I am cheery. Be brave, I tell it. But my body is nervous, makes excuses. Then I have to say, At your age! This is disgraceful! It starts to sniffle, to grovel, to beg, If only, it says. In the end I drag it to the car. Slam the door and rev the motor. Some day I’ll wash my hands of you, I say.
Then one night it sits down on the bed, strokes the cat. Is anything wrong? The cat jumps off, my body lies down, stares at the ceiling. And now I understand that it is sad. The other body it wants to be loved by has flown off to Bermuda with the redhaired stewardess, and now my body says it wants to die. So I sit down beside it. Wouldn’t you like to go for a walk? I ask. Shall I get you a glass of cold water? Want me to brush your hair? But it turns away. Is it weeping?
It is weeping. Now it’s eyes are red, it’s face splotched, it is ugly. What can I say – it gives me pleasure and grief, and now it is weary, so heavy, its face sags, it doesn’t care about the mirror anymore. It doesn’t care about the public or the politics. It doesn’t love music or admire the plastic arts. It is tired, it has stopped pretending. I will go out quietly and let it sleep.