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From testament Part IV: infolds & unspires.

The footing of the human body is so complicated. A kestrel breaks upward into beauty. Can gender be a lyric form? If the river says so. The river says.

Is not God, is not one of the many little gods, innumerable. Is not the body, but inheres within the body. This question of appetite, of dietary laws.

A bit of broiled fish, to prove that one is not a ghost infects the superanimate, the origin (as it were) of species. Painters differ on whether the body of Icarus was recovered wearing clothing, or what clothing it was wearing. Identifying marks (wing shear). Contents of stomach. Toxicology report. Washed up as far away as Tasmania, New Zealand. The girl remembers her mother said she was cold, & then they were in the water a long time, sometimes together.

Enucleated, the body steals from the other animals because an image tells it to? Allele for lactose digestion moving slowly across western Europe in time for colonialism, the triangular trade, mfecane. Why does my wrist itch, why this particular fire in the belly of language where gender rested.

Tender: easily affected, sensitive. By external physical forces or impressions; acutely sensitive to pain, easily hurt. Susceptible to moral or spiritual influence, impressionable, sympathetic. Of a ship: leaning over too heavily under sail-pressure, "crank" rather than "stiff." Sensitive to pious emotions or injury; touchy, nervous, ready to take offense.

The pageant revolves, but slowly, in time with an invisible music.

The choreographers were the happiest couple in the chateau. They were gay, so they weren't attracted to one another, they said. Every day they locked themselves into the factory of their art, without benefit of music. Because it's not about music, they said. It's about the body & what the body can be made to do.

The factories of their bodies, moving into & out of the scars intention draws as if from some substratum of flesh. Art surfaces, language surfaces (& we call it Faith. Light. Arrogance. Ministry).

Tendable: ready to give attention, attentive. Or, able to be tended, receptive; handy, able to attend. Tenderling: a delicate person or creature, a person of tender years, i.e. a young child. The soft tips of a deer's horns when they are coming through.

Innumerable gods of the body, in the body & we call them organs, meaning, organic to the body, meaning, producer of sound when air is forced through. (Chladni noted the patterns in the night sky.) Periodically one of the gods gets sick, dies maybe.

An eagle lives in the glen, you said, & one of the British poets quipped, that sounds like a folksong.

Biohistory, or: what happened to the original men? Did they die; were they killed haphazardly, or in some more systematic way. Did they move north, west were they somehow simply (?) prevented from reproducing.

Two roots, Latin tendere, to stretch. Latin tener, delicate. Well what more can you expect if it has two roots, you say, looking up from your magazine. Nothing has two roots, thank you Deleuze & Guattari.

The body sells itself, sells parts of itself to science, to medicine, to duration, that is, an idea of health. Watch how the animals crowd closely together so that they can all appear in the photograph.

Pump his stomach, send the contents to the toxicologists. Eat as if every meal should be your last.

Root vs. rhizome, ramifying as from sources. Moire, as overprint. (Those stamps no longer valid for postage.) Or: seiche, intersection of wave motion in a medium often caused on the surface of water by earthquakes or other geothermal disturbances.

Other identifying marks: scars (multiple). Moles. A bit of language, tattooed (on the inside of the wrist?). Index finger on either hand slightly twisted towards the far edge of the body, as if straining to escape. Or averting its gaze.

Folksong as a map to race, as a race against maps. Mammy's in the kitchen, fourteen miles to Cumberland Gap.

Tender: having the weakness or delicacy of youth; immature. Unable or unaccustomed to endure hardship, fatigue, etc.; delicately reared; effeminate (sic). Of animals or plants: delicate, easily injured by severe weather or unfavorable conditions; needing protection. In reference to color or light: of a fine or delicate quality or nature; soft; subdued.

Of things immaterial, subjects, topics: easy to injure by tactless treatment; needing cautious or delicate handling.

Peel back the eyegrain to discover the perpetrator, the last image beheld by the victim. What darker declivity.

Tenderloin, tendinous, tenderfoot. It gets cold inside the castle at night, even in summer. We light fires in the grates. Where did the other men go, the river is singing (if I say it is).

If you are magic you can heal me, Alice Notley writes. We could make blame a pretty song, as in: Who started this bleeding. We could weave a tune around it, teach the tune to children. Create a folk tradition. That is, assuming we want to heal, stop the bleeding. We have to want to stop the bleeding. The taste so sweet I couldn't tell that I was bleeding. And then, when I saw the blood, I thought it was just some new, unexpected sweetness. Strawberry liqueur, perhaps.

For a moment I took pleasure in swallowing my own blood. Tender: 1666, an offer made in writing by one party (frequently to a public body) to execute, at an inclusive price or uniform rate, an order for the supply or purchase of goods, or for the execution of work the details of which have been submitted by another party.

The body complete within its wound. The body complete, unpierced, unshielded. All the ghosts are wearing spectacles. Is that some new thing you're doing with your hair.

The dream of flight is the dream of Noli me tangere, don't touch me. Nobody ever asks whether Icarus had any good reason to get away from his father. Or from anyone else, for that matter. It's assumed altitude was its own reward, or light.

Because it's a myth, we are not talking about a dead person here. We can perform the autopsy in language & not feel anything. Right? (You're out of the room, somewhere else; I can hear you humming, maybe in the kitchen.)

The thing is, it's hard not to care, with our bodies covered in vibrating ashes, & all the patterns these ashes make.

The thing is, they are only patterns if we see them, & as such.

War makes us more literate in the language of the body, that is, the language of scars. Knowledge increases. We talked about it, & what we were hearing on the radio, it all seemed more or less like what we'd heard before which made it, if not OK, then ambient, part of the same dream.

& oh! the little boats in the harbor, how we love them, how the painters love them, all perched at the pier, the quay, plein air. Tender: 1675, a smaller vessel commissioned to attend men-of-war, chiefly for supplying them with stores, conveying intelligence, dispatches, etc. 1853, a small steamer used to carry passengers, luggage, mail, goods, etc. to or from a larger vessel. 1825, a carriage specially constructed to carry fuel & water for a locomotive engine, to the rear of which it is attached. (Accompanying photograph.)

Carpal tunnel, little war in the wrist, little hollow script. I saw this morning morning's minion, dapple-dawn-drawn falcon/boy/falcon/man/kestrel/language/boy.

We flense the corpse, cut the skin in strips, feed them through the projector. Please accept this gold-plated (--rib) on behalf of the city, as a token of the city's esteem.

As for Dolly, someone cloned her, & then someone--the same someone, or someone else, working for the same someone--bred her (to a Welsh mountain ram, says Wikipedia). She gave birth three times, in 1998 to a single lamb, in 1999 to twins, in 1999 to triplets. Bonnie, Sally, Rosie, Lucy, Darcy, Cotton. In 2003 she died of Jaagsiekte, a lung disease caused by the retrovirus JSRN, common enough among sheep. Her cloned genetic material may or may not have contributed to her abbreviated lifespan.

Within sight of Pictish cupmarks, their standing stones. War comes, & is partly archaeological. We are excavating our bodies from our bodies, away from other bodies. Light plays a role: brush away the soil, the enclitic grammar of the flesh.

A philatelist, a funambulist, & an off-duty toxicologist walk into a bar. Does this make them a wave function & if so at what point does the law intervene. (Legal tender, money or other things that may legally be offered in payment; currency prescribed by law.)

Dear Brigham Young,

I can't make my Ann Lee doll talk anymore. Lower lives demand more ghosts, lightning's (other) electoral college

I still think story is the more generous gift though it fails &, in failing, drives whole economies towards consolation. At rest, looking out of the frame of the photograph.

Pollen settles on the dig, the camp, the bomb site. Children gather it carefully, take it to the assay office where they're told (a) it's worthless & (b) they are all now starring in their own capitalist fable.

Shower of gold, the Greeks said, when a god entered a body. Sometimes figured in medieval paintings as light, sometimes as hard currency.

You lie on your stomach & the gun goes off somewhere: in Iraq, in Uruguay. At Gettysburg. In the next apartment, where the old lady with all the cats lives. You don't have to hear it.

A bit of broiled fish, to prove that one is not a ghost. Enucleated, by touch we sing what's beautiful must be an action, something you can do with your hands.

Gender asks, what is it you're to do with your hands.

G.C WALDREP'S most recent books are Your Father on the Train of Ghosts (BOA Editions, 2011), a lyric collaboration with John Gallaher; The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral (Ahsahta, 2012), co-edited with Joshua Corey; and a chapbook, Susquehanna (Omnidawn, 2013). He teaches at Bucknell University, edits the journal West Branch, and serves as Editor-at-Large for The Kenyon Review. His long poem Testament is scheduled for publication by BOA Editions in May 2015.
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Author:Waldrep, G.C.
Publication:New Orleans Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2013
Words:1693
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