I recently had a conversation on facebook about why
in the hell we’re in Libya. It was more or less civil but still, what
the fuck. But this is not a Libya poem. This is a prayer to the body.
I can only sometimes stomach the experience of walking through
a mall. On the days that I can, I marvel at how so many strangers
can share space in the name of economy. I then imagine that
dragging themselves through four floors of commerce may be
the most that they use their bodies on a Saturday. At least this
must be some kind of godly thing.
In bed, when she holds me, bare hands on shirtless back,
I finally find proof of telepathy. This is quantifiable,
as the pressure of her fingers is directly proportional
to the number of days I’ve spoken nothing of God. Divinity feels
less necessary when I’m not thinking of dying.
Our president recently explained our presence in Libya,
convincing millions that this has nothing to do
with opening a zipper. He painted a picture of a house
across the street, of the screams of a child being
skinned alive by a daddy named Qaddafi. How, he asks,
could we listen to this and not dash across the street?
When his speech is done, I silently ask why we listened
so long to the blades around the corner? Did we confuse
the howls of Sudan and Rwanda for music? I tell him
that when our soldiers have completed their work,
Scott Walker will still be governor of Wisconsin.
Once again, telepathy has worked, for he answers
asks me to remember the last time
I’d utterly failed my body.
There was a day I went to the mall and realized I was not
ready. These people were more than shuffling bodies,
but the weight of a thousand aching lives
around me. The body cannot help but to listen, absorb;
public gatherings are a horror when I can’t turn myself off.
In a half hour I was laying with a lady
in her bed. We were naked and holding. Unafraid to be temporary.
I told her how my mother still grieves over the night I was
six years old, molested and crying,
when she was too deep in slumber to dash across the street.
Strangely, of all my griefs, that night is my faintest. I cannot comfort
her any more than I can forgive us for Rwanda.
But when she dreams of me now, replaying what every parent
would name the darkest failure, I hope I tell her yes, this time,
you hear me, and you come.
In a couple of months, when the scarecrow of Qaddafi is
largely forgotten, our rescue of a screaming child another notch
on the ballot, this is what will remain:
my amazement while watching a woman steer two strollers
through the smother of a mall;
the billowing smoke from a house
I had to exit on my own;
the bed, where I was alive long enough to lay,
under the silent touch of a godless
woman too good for my body.