My body’s Braille, but far less famous
than that attributed to Seamus.
I mean the body of my work,
that like a confidential clerk
I daily feel I must produce,
in order not just to seduce
the reader, but to clarify
ideas that otherwise would die
if left to wither in the mind,
invisible like words the blind
cannot perceive until they touch
their elevated forms. I try
to elevate my thoughts when I
put them into a poem. That
is why my body’s Braille, not flat,
although deflated somewhat when
it’s read by semiliterate men
who are not used to reading Braille
written by a Jew or Gael.
The poem has a final quatrain that Linda has advised me to omit, claiming that the poem is stronger without it. I have therefore removed it, cutting the birth-cords.
synthesized in synagogue
or cut like birth-cords in a bog,
rising from the dark like gleams
that shine upon undrafted dreams.
Inspired by Seamus Heaney’s poem “Bog Queen”:
I lay waiting between turf-face and demesne wall, between heathery levels and glass-toothed stone. My body was braille For the creeping influence: dawn suns groped over my head and cooled at my feet, through my fabrics and skins the seeps of winter digested me, the illiterate roots pondered and died in the cavings of stomach and socket. I lay waiting on the gravel bottom, my brain darkening, a jar of spawn fermenting underground dreams of Baltic amber. Bruised berries under my nails, the vital hoard reducing in the crock of the pelvis. My diadem grew carious, gemstones dropped in the peat floe like the bearings of history. My sash was a black glacier wrinkling, dyed weaves and phoenician stitchwork retted on my breasts’ soft moraines. I knew winter cold like the muzzle of fjords at my thighs— the soaked fledge, the heavy swaddle of hides. My skull hibernated in the wet nest of my hair. Which they robbed. I was barbered and stripped by a turfcutter’s spade who veiled me again and packed coomb softly between the stone jambs at my head and my feet. Till a peer’s wife bribed him. The plait of my hair, a slimy birth-cord of bog, had been cut and I rose from the dark, hacked bone, skull-ware, frayed stitches, tufts, small gleams on the bank.
© 2009 Gershon Hepner 3/16/09