Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bones To Rattle The Storms Of The Spirit

Human anatomy fascinates me. Fingers fascinate me. Hands fascinate me. Feet fascinate me. Intestines, heart, brain, blood vessels, muscle, nerves, bone, genitalia, membrane, phlegm, hormone, cartilage, shoulder, tongue, and skin fascinate me. Maybe I should have been a doctor. Except I don’t like touching other people. Unless, of course, I am in love with them.

Human anatomy is a marvel of ingenuity. Imagine you are an engineer in heaven and God comes up to you and says hey you know what I was thinking of making a creature that can walk and talk and make things, any ideas?

Legs and feet would not immediately come to mind. They do now, of course, because I already know what they are. I have them. I use them. I can’t figure out how two disproportionately small organs can support my entire body much less help move it about, but if I try to unimagine them, unthink them, imagine a situation before they ever existed, entered into time and history, I can’t do that. All I can do is marvel at the ingenuity of it all.

And hands. My god hands. Fingers. Thumbs. Grasping things. Feeling things. Picking things. Pinning things. Plucking guitar strings. Holding a pen and making words with it. Letters. Pulling doors open. Turning knobs. Fondling breasts. Cupping a book. Pounding nails. Tapping keys on a keyboard. Pinching and squeezing and manipulating things. Knots, buttons, dials. Coins, trapezes, talismans.

Arms are a lot like tree branches except they move with much more suppleness. And don’t have leaves growing out of them. They culminate in fingers. Fingers give arms a life beyond the pedestrian function of holding a spoon or filing a bank statement. Fingers enlighten the arms and mind with the texture of a grapefruit or the telling physiognomy of a rock. If I were to go blind, I could use my fingers as eyes, touching the texture of the text of a book in braille. The meanings of the words would enter my fingers as bumps and travel through my nerves to my brain where they would form an image and out of that image I would find emotion and meaning.

Legs are both supports for the framework of my body and a source of locomotion. Insects have more than two legs. Centipedes can have anywhere from 20 to 300. I do not find that particularly enviable. More than two legs would be confusing. I like the rhythm of two. Two legs in motion. Walking. Or running. First one leg, then the other. Propelling me forward. Carrying me where I want to go.

Everything is contained in skin. I am contained in a sack of skin. I am a letter of organs in an envelope of skin addressed to no one in particular. It is stretched around my bones. Otherwise, I would be a sack of skin with a pair of eyes looking up. We need bones. Bones to drive a car. Bones to open doors. Bones to get dressed and draw and ride escalators and interact in dramas and make speeches and hear it. Bones to ferret the mystery of death. Bones to rattle the storms of the spirit.

1 comment:

William Keckler said...

This is so elegantly simple and beautiful.

Puts me in mind of the more phenomenological poets who love turning the poem into a miniature Ponge.