Wednesday, December 5, 2007

("And the body, what about the body?" --Jane Kenyon)

Encased in wool. Double-knit wool hat, wool scarf, wool coat. Wool gloves. Wool sweater. Wool trousers. Wool socks. A walking sheep, dyed in the many multiplicities of the rainbow, shorn and knit into compliance until the ewe takes human form.

You are what you eat: many vegetarians claim that diet affects system in a wide range of physical and behavioral ways. Do we likewise become what we wear? Do woolens indicate a desire to be led, shepherded, through life; tended to, fed, watered; protected from the worst harshnesses of the elements and disease with the known trade-off that at any moment we may be shorn ourselves, turned into a product not ourselves, processed and spun into a new creation to better suit the vision of our master. Worse, perhaps, than being peacefully forcefully reconceptualized is the possibility that at any moment this path may in fact lead to the slaughterhouse.

What, though, are one's options? To forsake the insulation of warmth and texture and fuzzy appeal that stays warm when wet but shrinks if not taken to the dry cleaner? Or to dismiss the entire quandary and move to the land of eternal warmth, allow the mind and the intellect and the strength that can only be burnished by shoveling snow in subfreezing weather at six in the morning -- to give up this inner resistance to fate and sit, on a verandah, in the sun, drinking iced tea, and gossiping.

To follow the path on the verandah, as the fate of the sheep was followed to the shearing and the slaughter:

The scene, you and I, on the porch, gentle sun, gentle breeze, gentle humidity, gentle conversation about gentle topics of general interest that have happened to the one neighbor on the street whose flowerbed is always a disgrace and whose lawn is five-eighths of an inch too long, and ever so noticeably full of weeds. And did you see her son's new girlfriend? The piercings, and the length of her skirt!

So upon forsaking the life of the snow-shoveling sheep-encased resilient Yankee, we happen upon the diorama of life in the velvet shackles of southern propriety. Where there is not the danger of the shearing or the slaughterhouse, but there is no danger of any future, any change, any event, ever, at all.

But wait! A third possibility emerges, born from the dark forests of Grimm and his ghastly tales. The sheepskin could quite easily be the concealment of the Other, the hiding place of that most feared.

For beneath this sheepskin is a wolf.


Reflections and reverberations
refracting the image until it
creates a new identity
separate from the original.
Chopped away by the knife
the cleaver
the machete.


The broken mirror
of that which was
        and is
        and is to come.

The shattered remnants of who we are and
who we would like to be and
who others want us to be and
who others command us to be.
But who are we, composed only of these pieces of ourselves?

I am not your backup singer:
        I sang the chorus,
        crooning flat melodies into cold nightclubs.

I am not your tabby cat:
        mewing for scattered crumbs of attention,
        your touch after dark.

I am not your muse:
        your solitary island of inspiration
        never being a being
        never being a force of nature.

The yellow machete slices across darkness, a strobe light of intense instant revelation.

You are not my god.


reading Cheating at Canasta
weather the wasps are still alive, how do they manage?