This Unholy Mess, My Body, In Which Considerable Spirit Dwells

This Unholy Mess, My Body, in Which Considerable Spirit Dwells

The eye doctor says my eyeballs are extraordinarily
long: they go far into the back of my head.
He’s a man I gave my only copy of an anthology
featuring eyes, including mine, on the cover,
and now he’s appalled. I lamely counter
“Poets are supposed to see deep.”

My regular doc explains the abdominal aorta
is like “a garden hose through the middle of the body.”
(Here’s a man speaks my language.) But in my case
it ends in ruin, an aqueduct crumbling at its endpoint.

My heart man says a blip on the EKG indicates
“left bundle branch block,”
which is damn hard to say!
It may mean my heart is erratic,
but then whose isn’t?

As for sacroiliac, a word I thought a joke
made up to rhyme with “out of whack,”
my left one has gone outlaw. And this is weird
because it’s not a thing but a space, where other parts
hook up. Hiatal hernia, hypothyroidism, hypertension,
planopilaris, arthritis, sometimes a fall
into vertigo, even traces of the terrible
Mask of Pregnancy I had over 50 years back.

And yet standing on my flat feet I can still cook
prodigious meals. I’ve cooked thousands in my long life.
And with my extremely myopic, post-cataract,
still-cloudy eyes, I’ve read thousands of books.
(Most of them during the pandemic.)
I can still heft 40 pound bags
of manure and mulch and clean,
over time, a three storey house.

This body has carried sleeping children to bed.
It’s climbed a hillside at dawn to irrigate young pines
on Kibbutz Ginegar, skinny-dipped in New Hampshire’s
Swift River. It’s hitchhiked alone at night from Vermont
to New York City, just to see Bobby Weintraub one more time.
It’s won jitterbug contests, been thrown
in the back of a paddy wagon, been struck by a car.

It’s been battered by the first man I married.
And raped by a stranger
left me hooded, tied up, in a closet.
It’s crawled in blackness to the face of a mine,
and changed the diaper of my best friend
after multiple sclerosis ravaged her.

This body’s hands, whose fingers are tending east
and west, knuckles bumping out,
have fed the birds, and written books.
They play the lowliest instrument, the kazoo,
which takes only tune and breath and amplifies
the human voice! in rowdy exaltation.