Katherine: Cross Examination
Is it true that bodies are bomb casings, engines
to surface rich men's floors with granite,
heaven's holding pens, and canvases for giddy
torturers who know the special shade
of each part's cruor, and scythes we rock
until fields are baled in the beds of dusty trucks?
Is it true that we are marrow-filled
and pulse with blood, that our minds
are built to suffer, are tortured on the rack
of government, grief, regret and work
so that our hands may tingle, our pupils dilate
like racing trains rushing toward spectators
at a crowded line, that when barstools folded
us together you slyly smiled as if we shared
a secret—a star so distant no one else
had yet discovered it, a citrine coast
where we could lie with only gaudy crabs for company
until our skins were glossed and slipped over each
other like breakers washing wet sand?
Do you know enough of love to understand,
or have priests and politicians
persuaded you that love is adolescent
hand-holding, old couples slumped across
their smudgy newspapers, or brief attacks
before men roll over in the dark?
Your mind cannot ignore
its vessel any more than astronauts can
abandon ship and wing off to the moon.
Our bodies are our brains—
any sculpture worth a cent
will tell you that. Here is something women know
and generals locked in war rooms and poets
blasting tunnels through Parnassas:
we are horrible in any state but bliss.
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