Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday Poem: Magnificence

These bodies of ours, they are magnificent and they
fail us.

We are cities, we are horses, we are coral

We are looted, we are blistered, we are

We are reduced.

She - the lumpy tit, he - the blocked digestion, he -
the dicky ticker, she – the faulty womb.

We fail. This is a fact. You are here to tell me this.

I remember you first on the flying fox, your hair

you like blackbird wings. Your eyes clenched as tight
as your

thighs to the crossbar. Laughing! Still 14. We wore
gold crosses,

talked about love while we dried ourselves beside
the lake 

(I don’t believe we ever solved it.) And now, this other thing -- 

to do with it? We are as ill-equipped, but the new failure
is a

reduction, a kind of deafness. The other was like

in the world speaking at once. Do you remember
how we’d sit

shivering in our towels until it was time to go in? Cities?
We were

whole galaxies back then - roiling, roaring, blazing, 
bursting from our skins.   

                                                      Mary McCallum

For more Tuesday Poems click on the quill in the sidebar or, more prosaically, click here. There's another 'body' poem at the hub and a lot else...


Penal-Colony said...

Mary, This is very fine indeed. You capture essences beautifully, poetically.


Elisabeth said...

The essence of life and of relationship. Lovely.

Mary McCallum said...

Thanks you John and Elisabeth for commenting overnight like that and so wonderfully. Such a pleasure to wake up - still tired from posting a just-written poem after midnight - to find responses - and good ones (oh, good ones!). I can sing out the door now on my morning walk.

Elizabeth Welsh said...

Mary, what beautiful existential words. The body is truly a subject for poetry. I find the form of this poem intriguing. Would love to know your thoughts on this? Thanks so much for posting!

maggie@at-the-bay.com said...

Seems to be, you are still 'bursting from your skin' when it comes to poetry... :)

Claire Beynon said...


Yes, magnificence, Mary. My response to this poem is visceral, somatic - a sigh and a shuddering.

I'm going to have to pin it up in my studio somewhere - or perhaps write it on the wall beside my bath!

Thank you - and yes, there are multiple connections between your poem and the strong sentiment expressed by Jane Hirshfield in hers. (How amazing the coincidence of the donkey & Santorini!!) xx

Unknown said...

Thanks Claire, Maggie and Elizabeth!

As far as the shape of the poem goes, the lines felt staccato and not readily connected at first - they needed to stand alone. I imagined the thoughts coming - as thoughts can come to me - as whole sentences and then a gap. Shock at the news of the friend's illness ('failure') would accentuate that I think. The longer lines emphasise the prosaic nature of some of the outpourings here, too; and the contrasting ideas of 'magnificence' and 'failure' explain the one long line and then a word or words at the end of each line that fall or fail or falter - landing in the next line - and remaining there, vulnerable. I tried to link the lines more but they resisted it. I like this construction. Thanks for your interest, Elizabeth.

Unknown said...

I see I've commented as Randell Cottage! Ah! That's my other hat.

Tim Jones said...

That's another fine poem, Mary - you are writing some tremendous poems at the moment, and that cottage friend of yours is doing just as well!

Mary McCallum said...

Heh heh - thanks Tim. A cottage that writes poems eh, now there's a thing...

Helen Lowe said...

I, too, like the idea of a cottage writing poems.:) And there are some 'magnificent' lines in this:

"I remember you first on the flying fox, your hair
behind you like blackbird wings."

and the conclusion:

"We were

whole galaxies back then - roiling, roaring, blazing,
bursting from our skins."

Mary McCallum said...

thanks Helen - given the galaxy metaphor I wondered if 'bursting' was enough - should it be 'exploding'?