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By series: Bridge St  In Yr Ear  Ruthless Grip

from the poem What holds the body (1999-2000)



We are unmaking the explosion. Everything still. It feels like baking, everyone

huddled in the blue kitchen. The two violinists are wide-eyed. I can’t see myself.

There are no more mirrors and the light is



White plastic sheet. Rail workers in cobalt blue with green, yellow. Beige

faces. I am just a blur, just a brush of color. And you?


“What is that?” He says. On the train we all ask the same question. Later, I

will think


And it will be insufficient.


Tight rope wire, a taut line lingering between here and

(Can I hold you back, can I…?)

Room hushed, hovered anticipation on the black underside of this cherry red

tent. Something billowing, and I


It is here now, wobbling, advancing. My own breath gulps and gasps

then settles down.


ONE: Anatomy

Some words I know: scapula, ventricle, organ, liver, femur.

The body pieced back. The body pieced. The body in

Let's begin simply. Locate the_________________

A reference point, as when we stretch our heads back to see

clearly the pole wobbling in the grasp--and the feet? Somewhere,

at first beyond vision, the cornea taking in light, adjusting

until the line between tightrope and toe, heel, ankle, thigh, hip,

waist, chest—in, out—neck then head wobbling

eyes eyeing out of sight the white pole

where. we meet. An interstice—two perpendicular lines.

Completely still that instant all eyes fix


As here, his voice behind my own larynx vibrating

behind me eyeing the rail, no, between the rails, the wooden

crossties. Eyeing between. My voice eyeing, eyes eyeing me and it

was there, slowing, our train so that


I want to tell you I'm afraid now. The light left on, asleep

on the couch because the bed

everything was foreign back home.

When I awake there is the patter of footsteps, quick in the hushed

night. Small Colorado City. And feet.

(2 seconds? more?


Paris in June, walking home where)

But that is an old story.

I ran a long way, but.

The newspaper left on the stoop, the carrier fleeing

This time, the package does not explode.



She is scrambling for something,

the glass in the mattress and the heat.

my hand in the phone on the line

a tone and "who do I call" and

"It's going to explode again"

(or was it "Il va exploser encore!")

Autotranslation. Movement.

We are in the kitchen. I want to ask

how we got here. And I finger your face, your nose

to be sure we are.


Simpler to forget. To take the few smiling photos

from your trip. Only a visitor, a vacation.

But for me you fix

in the moment


You become part of the house, what held up


Even putting you on that train to Germany,

your smile, dark hair straight and silky against the metallic

sheen of TGV rushing you at 200 km/h away.

Even that fixed as part of "the days after."

Sure, you left the newspaper articles, fragments of

windows to be replaced, the beige sawdust coating the blackened

broken cement, the shattered café front. But you were there

and my hands remember.


Sometimes only a body is necessary.

Sometimes only the body is.

Sometimes my hands hold tight, so that


Everything is blue. Museum

walls leer soft periwinkle,

my hand lurches, a bloated fish

flapping against my side as I think

if only I can name. If only

I can solidify the focus. Voice

beyond window, a dark sidewalk or

three figures on a bench

then I could let go.

That's what I think when alone. But then....


The heads tilted up cannot turn away for fear that the gaze

is what holds the body.

Tent a lung sucking deep

inwards until even the blue

fades into the white around iris

around the figure of

And what would make it fall?

And would you jump then?


In the kitchen everyone is bright yellow.

I am just a streak of color passing.

Can you hold me?


Because of money, or mood, a strange sore in the throat, sex no longer enticing, too much plastic, war in Africa, stagnancy and the long hours alone, the family, the lover, drugs, on a whim, fear of continuing, desire to combat, revenge on world/others, revenge on self, another's death, too many cubicles, a lack of ice, nightmares, the ozone layer melting, because it is a popular way to go, to hold up traffic, the wind over the bridge calls you to the edge and then..., the curiosity: would it work?, exhaustion, an illness, desire to be in a coma, sleep, bad news in a telegram, dentures, some abstract sense of loss, of missing, a need for drama, a need for closure, because the cat no longer wants to cuddle, because you lost your job, house, car, son, home, country, language, vertigo, because you forgot your dose of Prozac or Lithium, you've seen aliens and no one believes you, because no one can help, because filling out one more form is too much effort, because of the parking tickets, the aspirin prices, the mail taking too long for the bills, for the contacts, because you are going blind, or you hurt all the time and the doctors can do nothing, because it is always your own responsibility, your own silence, your own sexual preferences that you fear, because you lack education, or are too educated, because your nose is too long, hips too large, eyes the wrong color, clothes too out-moded, because it seems easier, or harder, because the sun hasn't shone in weeks, because you're late again and can't face the music, because you're going deaf, because the cyst turned out to be cancer, because the kids got caught in a fight at school, because you are still living at home, because it is Tuesday, or Saturday, or Christmas, or the first day of spring is coming, because of the noise, the static, the explosion, because of something no one could explain

And when I hold back, when I lean

Sometimes, it returns.

A sense, not totally foreign,

something missed. A reason, premeditated, whimsical.

The body in flight remains in flight.

There is a point of no return.


Caught mid-flight. The body

pieced back. The body in

What I can't undo not my doing.

And your hand, featherlight palm

a leaf against my cheek, a tickling, as above,

over the tightrope, the toes' balance is



white line in darkness.