Hole in the body of. Polished onyx apples on the Euphrates. In the mist that waters the earth, tree of life, boughs laden with. Find Eden from where the sweet river flows like a serpent. Death seeps into the womb of life, curled like the wisdom of the oroborus. Open our eyes to our nakedness, and let us beguile ourselves. We suffer, thorn and thistle, sweat of brow, beings of the dust storm that claims us. She is the mother of all living, Eve.
Even the Cherubim at the gate cannot hide that knowledge from us. Deflowered. “Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat /Sighing through all her Works gave sign of woe /That all was lost.” * She plucked; she ate. She was in delight. And banished us all to suffering. Splayed apple, splayed womb, cursed seed, death curling in at the edges like bruised fruit.
I carve you out of Genesis, corrigenda, the enfleshed text. The flaming sword of the image rewrites the texts, our coats of skins unclothing us, the ground seeded with future orchards of trees on earth day. Yggsdrasil, axis mundi, tree of life. The fruit that drops I cut into, a manna of meanings, seeds falling like divine alphabets under my pen, this corpus mundi, body of the earth.
Written to commemorate Earth Day, April 22, 2006.
Words and image by Brenda Clews of Rubies in Crystal
in their white coats
broach the inner sanctum,
the holiest of holies
of the human heart
with sutures, the yellow
wash of antiseptic.
Contact with the mystery
pumping through us
in ways the rest of us
(even the shepherds)
How can we know
when it’s time
to tug on the thread
and reel them back
to the tiled corridors
we nightly walk?
Written by Rachel Barenblat, author of chaplainbook.
“Nice lady, but she was not easy. No neck at all.” He tapes the tube securely to her mouth, squeezes the black bag to inflate her lungs, closes her eyes with clear tape.
“Not so easy to find her cricoid either.” The nurse exposes the round belly, and screws up her face. “Belly button clamp, please m’dear.” She reaches out, palm wide open. “Probably for the prep too, but I need to get the top layers.”
A man at the opposite end of the room, working at a covered table of instruments, dark green gown, gloved, masked, blue paper hat, brings to her outstretched hand a 6″ long instrument from his set. “You heard Grace wanted me to translate. I tell her, no, I speak Kurdish, Arabic, some French, but no Bulgarian. She says, ‘They are the same aren’t they?’”
“She didn’t.” The surgeon says, then sees the look from Kamil. “Oh, wait, you said Grace.” He chuckles. He is standing, sterile gloves on, by the prep solutions on a small sterile table.
“This is going to be a doozie, Dr. F.” She pulls lint from the umbilicus. “It’s not just a little bit. She’s got her full 68 years worth in here.”
“Oh, don’t tell me that.”
“Well, the top is black. And, oh, there is more, and more… and more yet.”
She continues cleaning out the incision site. There is quiet in the room, some shuffling around, as she pulls out more organic material. “Aha!”
“What? A Volkswagon?”
“Nearly. An umbilicolith.”
Soft laughter. “Good one. Now, I’m afraid of how many gall stones I’m going to find when we get in there, and you already found one in her belly button.”
“Can I get paid for an umbilicolithectomy?” asks the nurse.
“Not unless you are a Nurse Practitioner, sorry,” says Fishman.
“Can’t you make the incision somewhere else? Isn’t that going to get infected?” asks the scrub tech.
“We can, and with her now, I’ll certainly go above a bit. But especially with her, I gotta know where the anatomy is. That is our safe landmark.”
“And so grandma’s advice to wear clean underwear in case you get into an accident is useless. The ER will cut that off and not notice. What you really got to do is keep your belly button clean, in case they need to do a lap appy, or gall bladder,”the nurse says, crinkling up her nose. “I’m down to the earliest archaeology, and it’s starting to smell.”
“Stop, you’re making us all sick,” says the surgeon.
“Hey, I have an immaculate umbilicus. I’m just telling you what I’m finding in this poor woman.”
“Here, let me do the rest with the prep. Maybe give her some antibiotics. We can’t take an hour just cleaning that out.” He takes over, pouring the pink soap across her abdomen. “I think I am seeing blue sheet. You really weren’t kidding, were you?”
“I never kid about belly buttons. This one, I am going to tell for the rest of my life.
Written by Zhoen of One Word.
There’s a hole in my heart
that began as a bleeding wound.
Time smoothed the edges and trued up the frame.
Now it’s a window into memory.
I could have let it grow shut
kept out the dust and occasional flies
but that would have cut off the view.
So what if rain gets in?
An empty seashell echoes with remembered surf.
If it were sealed shut, you would hear nothing.
Poke a hole in your heart
what sounds are echoing in there?
written by Tiel Aisha Ansari of Knocking from Inside.
If they’re fishing for us with nets we’re OK
and the only real danger with being caught
in a net is letting go before you get hauled in
and then just falling back here and landing
with a bone-breaking thud
and then where are you?
Not taken, but not the same as before
because now you’ve got powdered vertebrae
and a pliant pelvis and the net won’t be back
in this lifetime so you’ll just have to become
a sole or something like that
a bottom-dweller with both eyes
on top of the head forever looking up
to a surface now entirely devoid of boats.
But if they’re fishing for us with hooks
we’ve got to take the bait
even though it bloody hurts
so you have to resolve beforehand that
this is the body which is given for me
and you’d better swallow it whole
so the hook’s gulped past the tongue
and the voicebox and right down into
the gut snagging in somewhere between
the heart and the belly and lifting you
even as it pierces your heart’s chambers
and up you go writhing and chanting
and spinning with arms flung wide as a
helicopter rescue and the other end so far
above your vision you can’t even think of it
but you know that is where you are going,
dragged by your breastbone towards the light.
by Ross Clark
This body, uneasy in its bones, crouched down
Into a branchery of ribs that leans
Into the fat of a round belly, the spine
curved down, like a burdened sapling,
And the shoulders cradling a wary skull –
This body is closed. Here is the gate of light
Here is the gate of sound here is the gate of cinnamon;
Here is the gate of seed and here is the gate of wind,
All closed. Under a microscope, the whole field
Of skin, thick-sown with hair, is a Hill
Of doored hobbit-holes, and they too
Are closed. If you drive up to Maine
Before the season, you will see McDonalds
And Burger Kings boarded up, and old ice
Drawing gray patterns on the parking lots.
Now light from the unseen sea, and
An unheard murmur of surf, and
An untasted salt of spray, and
An absent mouth between my thighs, and
An unloosened clutch of entrails.
Like that, too.
I remember faintly kisses and sunlight,
From another year, long ago.
Now, under the surface,
The tiderace and the cold surge
Drag against the jetties’ roots,
by Dale Favier of Mole
Japan was a trip, sometimes in more ways than one. This guy Paul I used to hang out with got a buddy back in the states to mail him some LSD. Something told me not to drop with him, so I politely turned him down when he offered to share. Another one of our classmates had no such scruples, however. I don’t remember his name, but he was the guy who started the Buddhist meditation group in the foreigners’ dorm.
He told me they ate two tabs each and rode the trains back and forth for hours. All the rice paddies were flooded, so it quickly became impossible to tell where the sky stopped and the ground began. Clouds above, clouds below, and in between the mountains were like enormous green Buddha-bodies, swollen with wisdom. For a while, he said, they were bowing gassho to everything. When darkness fell, they started looking at the lights as if each one was a vow somebody had made, a little particle of determination.
They were trying not to attract too much attention – like a foreigner in Japan can ever avoid being noticed! – but as they were coming back toward the college, a pair of giggly co-eds sat down across from them and they began to flirt.
“We started imitating them, you know? Putting our hands over our mouths to hide our teeth, which of course made them laugh even harder, so then we started speaking the most atrocious Japanese phrases we could think of, like gokiburisama deshita and bikkurisumasu, until we knew we had it made. Every girl wants a guy with a sense of humor, you know?
“It turns out one of them has an apartment not too far from the Makino station, so we go there, stopping at a couple of vending machines to pick up a packet of condoms and one of those mini-kegs of Sapporo. Paul was crazy, he wanted to tie them up right away, but I said no, first we had to snuggle and look deeply interested while they told us all about themselves, got sloppy drunk, started whispering secrets in our ears. Which were safe with us, because we didn’t know what the fuck they were saying once they lapsed into heavy Osaka dialect. Mine even blubbered a little, which of course made me cry, too. That’s just the way I am.
“Paul and I were coming down by this point, but the sex was still pretty strange. It didn’t help that they were both virgins. Mine was nice, she went through all the motions of liking it, but blood is hard to hide. I figure she must’ve looked at some of those pornographic comic books that the salarymen are always reading on the subways, because she knew the routine pretty well – even tried to give me a blowjob. But the girl Paul was with lay still as a stone and whimpered the whole time. He gets that look in his eyes. It scares people.”
He said he persuaded Paul to give them the rest of the LSD, four more tabs.
“We told them it was a kind of medicine, that it would make everything beautiful. Pretty soon they were tripping really hard, and Paul got the idea of writing our names on their forearms with the point of a knife. They loved it! You know how Japanese are about anything with Roman letters on it. When we left, they were both totally engrossed, staring down at the red letters as if they could see all the way inside. Hell, maybe they could. It gave us something to talk about the next day, after the mountains went back to being mountains.”
by Dave Bonta of Via Negativa