poem index

About this poet

Marianne Boruch is the author of eight poetry collections, including Cadaver, Speak (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). She teaches at Purdue University and in the graduate program for writers at Warren Wilson College. Boruch lives in West Lafayette, Indiana.

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.

Marianne Boruch

Marianne Boruch

Marianne Boruch is the author of eight poetry collections, including Cadaver, Speak (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). She teaches at Purdue University and in the graduate program for writers at Warren Wilson College. Boruch lives in West Lafayette, Indiana.

by this poet

poem
Everyone should have a little fugue, she says,
the young conductor 
taking her younger charges through
the saddest of pieces, almost a dirge
written for unholy times, and no, 
not for money.
                Ready? she tells them, measuring out 
each line for cello, viola, violin.
It will sound to you
not quite
poem

                                   —in memory


Eventually one dreams the real thing.

The cave as it was, what we paid to straddle
one skinny box-turned-seat down the middle, narrow boat
made special for the state park, the wet, the tricky

passing into rock

poem
Someone arranged them in 1620.
Someone found the rare lemon and paid
a lot and neighbored it next 
to the plain pear, the plain
apple of the lost garden, the glass
of wine, set down mid-sip—
don’t drink it, someone said, it’s for
the painting.  And the rabbit skull—
whose idea was that?  There had