In a blogging tradition going back to the early 1840s, every April 30th I post one of the poems I wrote in the preceding thirty days to mark the end of National Poetry Month. Unfortunately, because I’m a grad student, I had to spend most of my time writing research papers (all about Canada), and did not reach my goal of thirty poems. But I don’t want to skip this beloved tradition, so I wrote one more final poem this morning. It’s the first thing I’ve written in two weeks not about Canada.
After Galway Kinnell
“We lie close,
as if having waked
in bodies of glory.” -Galway Kinnell, “The Last River”
I ignore the news of floods and wind this morning
in favor of another kind of news, certainly not gospel
but written with another kind of good news,
this aged copy of Body Rags I haven’t read in years.
A more clinical approach to wandering bodies might be useful today;
I could take on a diagnostic demeanor to dissect
the way bodies fall in motion beyond my control,
spinning down a river with fickle rapids
knocking back and forth, back and forth,
away and towards a rumbling unknowing,
but Galway keeps winking at me from the page
to find the glory in the body. Maybe
that’s all there is to us: we are meandering
collages of bone, blood, stretched tissue
and bird-shy nerves emailing sensations to one another,
quietly demanding more sunlight on skin, more rivers to listen to,
more poetry to see in the clouds, all these furtive microselves
gossiping to each other the full extent of the body’s glories
back and forth, back and forth. How else does good news spread?
I hold onto this dying copy of Body Rags
tracing my fingers down the pages, like deep beaches
with thin blue streaks where a friend underlined her favorite lines.
Maybe there’s enough gloriousness to go on here,
some secret, hushed process of bliss that saturates
when I’m closer to the sunniest people I know,
but even my god-obsessed metaphors go overboard,
so here I stop to underline my own favorite line with blue ink,
adding one more river to the desert-tan pages
rocky with broken sentences.
Copyright, Keene Short 2016. Photo: I asked Lost Compass Photography for a photo of Galway Kinnell, but those dorks gave me a photo of Galway, Ireland, which is why the senior photographer isn’t getting his twenty bucks.