I am writing/compiling a series of poems on the body and God’s great gift of embodied existence to human beings. It is (very) tentatively titled, Songs of the Body. Below is the rough draft of a poem I jotted out at lunch today. I was having trouble deciding whether the ending is fitting for the poem or if it needs more and have just added a few more lines. I would appreciate your feedback and any ideas on how to improve the poem.
A Song of the Body
By Rebekah Devine
We squirm uneasily, not quite
at home in our own bodies,
wondering why the all-day sucker
our grandfather bought us tasted
so red, golden, sour, sweet –
like a twisting rope of sticky fairy food –
and why our viscera surged and clamored
when our love first entered the room.
So much is for the proposition:
the vicious crimson on the skinned knee,
the feverish tingle on the first day of school,
and trees speaking to each other
in hushed tones and nettled rustlings.
What do they say?
Many things; things that make us shift
from foot to foot, cover our flushed cheeks
and furtive eyes, leaving us mumbling,
wondering whether it is home or
homelessness that is the illusion.
The trees are for and against it
in their rustling, for they murmur:
Home is near you, in your mouth
and in your heart; do not ask
who will ascend into heaven.
But near – to be near is to be not quite here,
to be covered in a silken veil,
slit through only by a flaming sword.
We hear conflicting reports:
that this momentary affliction,
this fleshy desire, this earth-suit,
is passing away and that we will be
laid in our eternal Home in the skies.
But we cringe at this wide, unknown world,
hoping, after all, that clouds and space
are only a metaphor for something closer,
feeling a tinge of guilt for wanting, wanting so much,
the filial sense of earth, the sensual existence,
the drop of water on our tongue,
dripping from the beggar’s finger.
And we fancy that heaven, real Heaven,
might not be so different from earth.
Different – but only as the heavy dust
cloth removed from the ancient furniture,
and the opened shutters letting loose the sun
into the lifeless room, the maids sweeping,
lighting the lamps and cleaning the chimney.
We hear an earthshaking report:
that this divorce, this estranged, two-housed
existence, is not our end and that the
scab-crusted, side-scarred flesh of our savior
bodies forth from heaven to earth,
to join the worlds in remarriage.
For we are not dual citizens,
nor will we abdicate our throne.
We are flesh of his flesh
and bone of his bone.
And in these dry bones we
squirm uneasily, wearily, eagerly –
asking, pleading, “O LORD, can these bones live?”
Copyright © Rebekah Devine 2011