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10 December 2006

Lucia* has a new book** coming out, but this poem is from The Oldest Map With the Name America, which I just ran into at Amazon. I am putting this poem here as it's a great poem, I had forgotten I am quoted in the epigraph, and although my letter was pre-Second Life, the flying is something fulfilled by Second Life.

The Body Rising

I'd like to do something that would be the opposite of skydiving. Instead of falling I would rise up and up guess I'm talking about flying . . .


Think about the girl in her red bikini,
how she rides the air behind the speedboat.
So what if her chest is leashed to a kite-forget the kite.
Think of county-fair daredevils
careering in rickety turrets, their motorbikes
riding the wall at centrifugal speeds. So what
if you paid a dollar admission-forget the dollar,
forget whatever you admitted. Think of all the times
you didn't have to pay to see gravity break:
the circus clown cannon-balled into the sky
and Eva Braun zeppelined into the sky
and the astronauts, especially the astronauts
who never came down when they were turned to vapor.
How to find fault in anything that includes the body rising:
the raft spilling its paddlers, who disappear
so theatrically before they surface in the river's twisted
sheets; the WWII bomber that crashes into the mountain
and stays buried, whose airmen keep floating up
after years in the glacier, limb by perfect limb;

the pillar of smoke rising from the funeral home
run by your neighbors, the monosyllabic
Mills & Burns. For months you've been typing
in a second-story room across the street, oblivious
to what the stories mean-the fact you sit on nothing
more than air, you inhabit the air
just over the oldest bank vault in town, all day
you steep in the waft of silver dollars.
Yet it's not the floor that's important,
not the raft of flowered carpet you think holds everything
up; it's not the kite but the body, not the river
but the body, not the rocket but the body that understands
its elements so well it can revert to them in a blink.
And maybe we serve the body most faithfully
when we abandon it, the way these dancers
(who enter now by way of the TVs local access channel)
allow themselves to rise up on each other's wings.
But these aren't dancers really: they don't have wings.
just death metal punks, speed slammers and moshers
whose choreography's zoned against unbruised escape.
The bass is a wooden shoe clogging
the deepest canal in your car, and teenage boys
have started to launch themselves like supermans
soaring over the crowd of burnished heads.
You're thinking about what odds these boys risk
getting crushed. But look what happens next:
they don't get crushed. Instead they turn
weightless and waterlogged, bullied and buoyed
like ghosts who can't drown because they have no boats.
Vaults of pliant and complete surrender, rising
as each body passes through the pairs of upraised hands.

*Wonderful poem, L
** It's available for pre-order on Amazon but it has had a change of title.

posted by - 12:20 AM


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