Thursday, October 05, 2006

Poetry Thursday: The Body

I've been playing at being a whiz corporate accounts person today, all dressed up in my power suit to attend a tax seminar. So I'm a little late, but I have two hours to go of Poetry Thursday here, and a lot more hours in the US. Sometimes it's useful to be in this time zone.

My poem this week is a new one written for the topic (though it's from an old germ of an idea I've had sitting round for a while) so it's very new and feels a bit rushed. Usually I take a lot longer than a couple of days to write a poem. I'm going to post it anyway and will definitely work on it some more later.

Stretch Marks
You are mapped in lines on my hips. For nine months
you grew. I thought that was all the stretching
I had to do. You were small and close.
You played beside me in the garden. On the path,
a shiny trail the snails made echoed the lines
on my hips. Years passed. You moved further away
- to school, and further still, passport in hand.
Returned, only to wander in dark lands
where no one could follow. I stretch and stretch,
more than I ever knew I could,
wanting to hold you still, and I have stretch marks
like those on the globe of my belly,
shining like braided rivers that flow from the mountains
over shingle beds in many channels
searching for the sea.

As a bonus, here is a link to a discussion on poems about the body from the Academy of American Poets.

And here is a favourite poem from American poet Joyce Sutphen:

Coming Back to the Body

Coming back to the body, as if to
a house abandoned in time of war, you find
it stands as tall as you left it, the same
fingers reaching back to rub the same neck.

Returning, you remember how it feels
to stretch your arms to embrace another
body, how the tongue clicks against the teeth,
how solid voices flow into your ear.

You are relieved that what you dreamed will not
come true now that you have escaped again
into skin and bone. They'll never think of
looking for you in the body, alive.

Wherever the body is, that's where you
are now. It's the same old address you had
before you went away: no miracles,
no amazing improvements. You're still you.

Now that you are back, things go on the way
they were meant to. No one asks the question
that you couldn't answer if you wanted:
Where were you hiding all those long lost years?


Kay Cooke said...

I like that poem of yours a lot - it is a neat way of describing that link you have to your child - and the stretch marks that go with it - the play on the word stretch marks is very clever. Well done. The other poem is interesting too - but I like yours better!

Anonymous said...

Isn't amazing just how much we stretch after we have our children, I enjoyed your take on it..Thanks..M

Cyn Huddleston said...

You have gotten it very well, the mom thing. Stretching to connect and stretch marks. I wish I had said that.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I enjoyed reading your poem very much, good play on words!

wendy said...

I found your poem beautiful and melancholy. Nice!!

January said...

Ahhh, feels like I'm looking in a mirror. Those stretch marks carry so much history.

My favorite lines: "and I have stretch marks
like those on the globe of my belly,
shining like braided rivers that flow from the mountains
over shingle beds in many channels
searching for the sea."


Anonymous said...

I like the movement in this poem from the individual and the child to the world ~ mountains, the sea. This is lovely.

Deb R said...

I love your poem, Catherine. It'll be interesting to see what changes you make, if any, but I think it's really good as it is. I like the way it starts with the stretch marks being small and physical and then expands into being about so much more.

My float said...

I love your poems. Beautiful and graceful. I'll be back to read more.