Human Atlas

Marianne Boruch

 
Because the body really
is Mars, is Earth or Venus or the saddest downsized
Pluto, can be booked, bound, mapped then.
Or rendered like something off the bone, fat just under
the animal skin, to lard,
cheaper, quicker than butter, like stillness
belies restlessness, like every yes
was or will be not, never, no,
                                          none of that.
A full section in such a book
keeps the skeleton quiet. (So untroubled to be specific, to say
femur, rib, half-minute of splendor,
to stare like that
stops time...) Or slick pages and pages given over
to slow the blood, remake muscle, to un-secret
that most mysterious lymph, its arsenal
of glands under the arm, at groin, at neck, awful
ghost lightning in it.  Inscrutable.
                                                    Complete: because
the whole body ends, remember?  
But each ending
goes on and on. Complete: because some
minor genius with a pencil, with ink, with drastic color
makes that arm you've  known for years
raw, inside out, near wanton run of red vessel and nerve,
once a sin to look, weirdly now,
what should be hidden. Oh, it's garish
                                                       equals austere.
Compute. Does not compute. Tell me.  
Then tell me who that
me is, or the
you understood, the any of us, our precious
everything we ever, layer upon
bright layer.
 
Copyright © 2011 by Marianne Boruch. Used with permission of the author.

Poems by This Author

Little Fugue by Marianne Boruch
Everyone should have a little fugue, she says,
Snowfall in G Minor by Marianne Boruch
Overnight, itís pow! The held note
Still Life by Marianne Boruch
Someone arranged them in 1620
What God Knew by Marianne Boruch
when he knew nothing


Further Reading

Poems about the Body
A Hand
by Jane Hirshfield
After tagging the dust your body is made of
by Jen Tynes
Anatomy
by Monica Ferrell
Bodyweight
by Matthew Schwartz
Brokeheart: Just like that
by Patrick Rosal
Danse Russe
by William Carlos Williams
Flux
by Afaa M. Weaver
For the Man with the Erection Lasting More than Four Hours
by John Hodgen
Ghost in the Land of Skeletons
by Christopher Kennedy
Guessing My Death [excerpt]
by CAConrad
Headaches
by Marilyn Hacker
homage to my hips
by Lucille Clifton
I Sing the Body Electric
by Walt Whitman
In the Surgical Theatre
by Dana Levin
Love Letter to a Stranger
by Jenny Browne
Multiple Man: Guest-starring me & you
by Gary Jackson
My Skeleton
by Jane Hirshfield
Post-Dissertation-Intervention (i.)
by Ronaldo Wilson
Self-Portrait in a Wire Jacket
by Monica Youn
Slight Tremor
by Linda Gregerson
Textbook & Absence (Anatomy)
by Catherine Barnett
The Tongue
by Chris Martin
These Hands, If Not Gods
by Natalie Diaz
With Child
by Genevieve Taggard