Anatomy

A selection of poems from

ANATOMY 

 

 

THE HAND

This is the hand. Talking.

 

This is me. Holding up the hand

and looking hard into it.

 

Is anyone listening?

 

The hand swims through the quick

water of daylight, through the slow

water of the night.

The hand burns during the day and

curls into brown smoke.

The hand burns at night and

crackles with electricity.

It jumps when anyone walks past.

It gasps and swallows short breaths

and stumbles over its broken teeth

when anyone asks it a question.

 

Is anyone listening?

 

I do not want to listen.

I do not want to sit and wait,

holding the hand in my hand

like a woman in the cold, a woman in the

cold and the dark cradling a dead child,

like a woman cradling nothing.

 

I hear the hand all day.

I hear it whispering behind walls.

Behind thin doors.

I hear it in my dreams. In my desire.

 

My lust is filled with the dark

blood of the hand, the dark light

that pulls, that calls, pulls

like a heavy rope at my heart.

 

I look at the hand and see

the scars of fires and knives.

 

I look at the hand and see

the calluses of stones and sticks.

 

I look at the hand and hear

the slow bending of bone, the curling

tongue of tissue and vein as the old words of my heart

close upon themselves like a leaf,

like the leaves of plants in dry lands

desperate to preserve the little that

remains in their veins.

 

I hear the hand call out and I turn my back.

 

I turn away from the sight of its large fingers

curled around the hole in my back,

its hard skin closing tightly like a

scar over the site of so many scalpels,

the loss of so many shoes.

The absence of feeling. Of so many feelings.

The feeling of being me, when I am so

few other things too.

 

This is the hand. Talking.

 

This is me. Not talking

to the one who exists at the still centre of the storm.

The one I have never seen. Only smelt.

The smell of lost flowers.

The smell of lost hair.

Eyes that opened once, flashed

like water under the sun,

spontaneously, and then were gone.

Beneath the black rock of fear.  

 

This is me. Talking.

 

I cannot do anything else.

Cannot run, jump, climb, skip,

hurry, walk to the end of the sky.

Barely stand without falling over.

Because it is only the hand that

holds me up, that holds me onto

the narrow path, where there are no handholds,

only deep and empty falling.

 

But the hand is mortal.

It is not God.

It must burn.

 

Is anyone listening?

 

The Shoulder

Fire most times.

And ice the others.

Fire when the ice has melted,

and standing is impossible.

 

Fire when the wind blows the night over,

when the invisible river running through the night

runs out of breath.

 

Fire most times.

 

And others a blade

like a butcher’s,

a hammer, a chisel: bone and tissue

separating every day and returning

with every step.

 

The Wrist

The wrist, the right one,

is a wrench.

 

The wrist, not the left, is rust.

 

It is red metal amongst stone.

It is brittle tin. It is clanking iron.

 

The wrist is unsettled.

It does not join or turn or fold or meet.

 

It grinds, stone against stone, mid-day

sunlight against old iron.

Cold night against cold stars.

 

It is a sharp moon. A blunt moon.

Made blunt on the blade of a hill.

 

The wrist, my wrist, my right,

is all that holds me up.

 

Keeps me perpendicular

to the black grave.

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