Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Your Body Is Your Emissary (Poem)

Your Body Is Your Emissary

He took his meals
     at the head of your table.

No more talk,
     he said,

and not one word,
     forgetting how a body'll

harbor its own clean sounds:
     breath sibilant like cold water

rushing pinked skin, lungs rattling
     sleep out of darkness

soon as the coughing starts
     its second round, your heart stuck

like a needle on a broken record,
     its groove plied deep. You want

to forget how he applies his poultice
     of blacked and blued love, the sensation

of fears climbing the column of your welted
     back, ridge after raised ridge mapping

his good aim and your poor timing,
     a surfeit of flesh given up

to rawed knuckles, wide eyes traveling the room
     like pinwheels. It's all you can do

to measure the distance the seed falls,
     takes root, gives ground.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas
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I wrote this poem for Carry on Tuesday, which each week provides a prompt that participants are to use wholly or partly in an original poem or prose piece.

The prompt for Tuesday, January 4, consists of the opening line of the duet "All I Ask of You" from The Phantom of the Opera (read the lyrics and listen to the recording here): No more talk of darkness, forget these wide-eyed fears.

To read other Carry on Tuesday contributors' poems or prose for Prompt #86 or to add the link to your own piece, go here.

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I also offer this poem for One Stop Poetry's weekly "One Shot Wednesday" event. Be sure to visit the site late Tuesday afternoon and every Wednesday for links to the many contributors' poems. 

25 comments:

Glynn said...

You may have just described the (universal) condition of the body. Great poem, Maureen.

M.L. Gallagher said...

wow -- this is awesome.

Gave me shivers... up and down my spine!

Melissa said...

So beautiful for something so desperate. I find myself wanting to say amen, and yet that is not quite it, and yet it is... if the poem itself were a prayer for something else.

Hannah Stephenson said...

Aim and timing---that is right.

This is a great poem, Maureen.

Diana Lee said...

I sat and read this three times because each time I read, I heard something new that I missed with each reading. Wonderful.

katdish said...

Now, see? This is what intimidates me about reading poetry. I read the comments and think to myself, "I'm not reading this right", because I'm taking away something different than others are. Or at least I think I am...

Well, either way--a very powerful poem.

S. Etole said...

yes, shivers ... and fear

One Stop - The Place For Poets, Writers and Artists said...

This piece leaves so many searching questions and doubts. Can almost hear the strains.

thanks Maureen for always putting up your best for us to read

MDW - hugs

Monkey Man said...

highly emotional piece. beaten and hopeless until the ending.

hedgewitch said...

Pulling this up from the darkness--it hurts even to read it--I was actually physically flinching about midway "...his good aim and your poor timing..." Brings back memories of childhood helplessness before adult rage. Eloquent and dark piece, and the ending most of all, for me.

Brian Miller said...

ouch...i am rather glad it ends in the hope of a seed...

Maureen said...

In case anyone is wondering: while this poem is in response to the COT prompt, insofar as it uses some of the words, it also comes out of a lot of reading recently about women and domestic violence. I have never personally suffered domestic violence. I do have a number of close friends who have.

brokenpenwriter said...

I'm glad to read your assurance about never having suffered domestic violence. Despite this, your poem was written with chilling understanding of one who has felt the fear, shame and destitution abuse leaves on a person. Vivid, close-up camera like imagery, and metaphors carried off so well. This is fine poetry - really fine work.

signed...bkm said...

I saw Phantom in New York years ago...though the music breathtaking the plot was not...very dark and uneasy and did not like it..your piece gives the same feeling of being controlled and the fear that goes with it....I understand the controlling aspect..left it long ago..bkm

Beachanny said...

I know this is not the most poetic or classiest thing to say to you Maureen, but every time I read one of your works, I say to myself, this woman, she's the "goods". Where that phrase comes from must be deep in my background, but it meant the real thing, the real McCoy, the goods. And you are. As dark as this is the delicacy in the way you wield your words amazes and inspires me. Thank you for your always courageous and brilliant writing. Gay @beachanny

Kelley said...

Brilliant! Thanks for sharing this lovely poem!

Jingle said...

insightful words..
lovely put...

betweenhearts75 said...

I knew immediately the sense of domestic violence in this Maureen, and commend your words, so emotional.

Physical and emotional abuse...can meet with these words/ bruises on the inside can be as equally painful...

very well done!
~April

jen revved said...

I come to this as to God's table and the splitting of that flesh for us-- perhaps not quite what you meant but it sent a spear straight into my heart. xxxj

booguloo said...

I'm happy you were not the one abused. I'm also sorry your friends had to endure such treatment.

gautami tripathy said...

It has so many layers to it....

Here is my one shot:
musical whirlwind

Anonymous said...

Powerful poem for pain often swept under under whispers. I love how you crafted these lines, sustaining the blows. And yet, you lift the spirit up in the last three lines. Thanks, Maureen!

Alegria (the identity choice button only accepts 'anonymous')

Claudia said...

this was tight maureen - felt a bit like a war drum read - and i love how you end it

Steve Isaak said...

Exemplary balance of emotional/physical, and the tug of competing dynamics. Great flow, word choices, line breaks.

Elizabeth Young said...

Amazing poem. Explains about abuse exactly the way it is. The fear of even one's breath or a sneeze making an unwelcome noise and inviting the wrath of the dominator.