Body on the Brain

Body on the Brain

Body on the Brain

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A weekly poem, read by the author.
Sept. 22 1999 3:02 AM

Body on the Brain

When the larva hit the omelet pan,
Curling, warping, maybe even
Sizzling a bit, I wanted more
Data to connect my ruined home-
Fries to the moths I'd been applauding
All summer into dust. But when
I saw its kin threading up the collar
Of the Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
I scrubbed the cupboards with all
The Formula 409 to be found, finding
Larvae in the flour, in the corn
Meal last used in the late-eighties,
The creamy-style Skippy, the Basmati rice,
The sesame seeds and Aunt Jemima Lite.
I swabbed, I purged, I itched
The way I'm itching now to get this right
So you'll scratch too. Do you
Believe your body merely feels
When it blinks and recoils, figuring
It may have eaten grubs, or do
You think, as Freud did, that each
Twitch or catch in the throat
Constitutes a thought? I marvel
How the body we're wired to adore
Disgusts us when we cast it
Out into the world. Spit
Repeatedly into a juice glass, drink it.
Every day you drink a hundred times
This half-cup of saliva. We get
Our lessons in otherness where we can.
How else could I stare into the porridge
Of my daughter's diarrhea, swallowing
To keep from puking into it, yet grateful
She's still mine enough to let me check?
Or when we add our stink to a stranger's
Stink from the next stall, two stinks
Stink less than one, don't they?--and isn't this
How mind and body mate when we're in love?

Steven Cramer's fifth collection, Clangings, will be published in 2012. He directs the low-residency MFA creative writing program at Lesley University.