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Reprieve For The Body

John Pass
From: Radical Innocence (Madeira Park: Harbour Publishing, 1994)

The body wants wind it can fall back on, involuntarily
hurried along a few flighty steps, arms outstretched...

wants the hands of the masseuse divining
completely its faults and shudders, its taproots and aquifers.
The body wants its walking daylight, daily
bread of whole air and things seen at the right pace.

The body half-wants to carry in 21 sheets of gyproc
from the truck by itself in the rain even. It doesn't

want its bicycle, its skis, its Nautilus machine
so much as a clean dive into the lake
and coming up straight-limbed and strong with the force
of the water's counterweight on its heels, eyes opening
breaking into the bright world with a whoop.

But the body appreciates definition and discipline
tempered with wit, wants to make the unlikely serve
deservedly, likes to get lucky in the back-court, the deep corners.

I don't make an argument for the body
has no use for argument not even the flawed
patient struggle the poem has saying
what it hopes is true. The body shakes it off, phooey

like a labrador

and goes on wanting the blurred reciprocal urgency
of lovemaking at its best, the body dressed in its splendour of kisses

the brave-hearted body electric, the 20th century body
in the earth-chair kneeling at the terminal needing its ground.

The body wants its earth

especially stumbling off the train where its been a waiter
legs braced against the sway, tray centered in its left palm
2 days Vancouver to Winnipeg and 2 days return 10 hours later

especially deplaning at Narita it wants
no cunningly wired and padded layover pod but a loud
pebbled beach, its remembered cherry tree, sun-hot granite slab on Fuji.

The body wants to lie down on the ground and stay put
till dusk, rolling over now and then as it pleases
feeling its way, dreaming its magnificence, its breath and fingers

ruffling the wild mint, the heaped grass-clippings, the leaves'
musk under the hedges, dead-still as the neighbour victim

of knock-out-ginger crashes onto his porch
his houselights raging, or strangers

go by on the sidewalk, their voices lonely and trivial —
an aching poetry wanting the singing body
so near, forsaken, so sullen with its losses
it won't come in for calling for the longest time.

John Pass' works copyright © to the author.