The crush of heat bears down
on a body, like a body pinned
against a wall. A body knows
its limits. A body knows well
the little insurrections that are
its punishments. O body, with
your diamond-crusted tenderness
& your whitish streaks of cruelty.
How we dream the body into life
with words: the lip cut open with
insistence—lyric trembling on its
two cloven feet as a newborn foal
trembles. The freakish sum of the
body’s flesh & blood: a thousand
holdouts, lost vestiges from when
we were still suspended in sea ice.
A god we could not touch touched
our bodies & we became like light.
I once thought the body was some
sanctuary, a temple with a colored
glass entrance & ornamental brass
filigree, Michelangelo mural over
-head on its domed ceiling. There
is no holy body, only its lonesome
ache. The half-life of heartbreak is
in the body’s bones; neither decays
to completion, inextricable. Under
my nail I can feel a silvery splinter
I cannot remove. If only there were
mercy in a world atwist with flame.