State of the Body

In Poetry by Angelina Eimannsberger

By C.S. Bhagya

“Nevertheless it will be said that if the body is not a thing, it is a situation
                                                  – Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex



The leg, hirsute,
always in the aspect of departure—
twitches and bobs restlessly. Your legs,
they want out, be somewhere
you will not need to denote it,
the body
—what is it?
except some pinch in the real, “a wrinkle in time”,
script of protein and letters which smashup
mashup, this witchery, this language-science
coming apart beneath your gaze
as under the fibrillating deep glass-glower
of a microscope, burning;
what is this body except
what it agglomerates daily, these hands
so cold, pliant fingers tapping like musical notations in flight,
in their readiness—always in flawless poise—
the clefs, the umbrella flats, burring
the music sheet like hair in the sun
whooshing adrift.


Now you don’t think of
soul, or consciousness, or metempsychosis,
words like bombs,
but only of the aspect of your frail body—
its postures, its ugliness
how it is listless, and retaliates the quickening of days
by opening,
this body, all event,
not static at all except in the crinkling of wool over toes,
the torso hugged tight in snow
or slam-dunk rain.
(You don’t want to say the body is history, deal
in tired clichés, this body, a museum,
a nasty scar on the side of the world
unable to forget

The body is a state of hurt,
the body betrays, the body         it dreams of itself,
pontificates, thinks it is resilient as thought, the vagrant—
but, like thought
it is subject to external forces, changes
under atmospheric pressures, all alterities of weather,
like thought
it eventually decays.
Yet, the body resists,
a wedge between now and later, and it is heavy—
it is the full past.


And the body is speed, space over time,
but does not manifest as geometric loci—
verticality/ horizontality,
but vertiginously, plunging inward—
explosion/ implosion.
The body is half-phantom:
its ghost forms in the night like a rash,
or an extra limb, or a pale flower that breaks
the profundity of skin. Sitting lightly on the delicate tendons
of the neck, or hung on hip, it disappears by morning,
or lingers on invisibly; for days after
the body is savage with sap,
its hard angles softening, keening to bear fruit.
The body is ruthless; it is built in the mood
of a hurtling bird of prey
that shoots down a clear day two thousand metres of pure air
to pin down a glint of mouse in the grass
like a collapsing rocket
yielding to the heavy, thickening, linear grip of gravity,
the body,
coming to a still
only when the claws dig in,
tail twitching to a stop like a long sentence


Image: “Portrait of Girl in Blue Chair” by Alice Neel