The Color Green

By Chana Bloch Chana Bloch
Two floors up, at the corner of Hearst and Shattuck,
he’s clamped for good                                    
in an iron lung. When it’s time to eat
he nudges his head a sweaty mile
to the edge of the pillow. It takes a while.
His brilliant bloodshot light-blue eyes
steer me from cupboard to fridge:                     
he would like his chicken burrito
cut into bite-size pieces,                                            
a bent straw for his glass of water, please.                
How does the body live its only life
in a cage? I watch him compute the distance
from bar to bar, and squeeze
between them
with a violent compression, a fury of bursting free
that doesn’t last.                    
His will is a crowbar, angled to pry up                                             
the rooted intractable weight
of matter. I watch him slyly, I check out
the way he does it. He
does it. But pain in its absolute privacy                                  
weighs what it weighs.
I come here to study the soul, posing one question               
a dozen ways, most of them silent. 
“If I’m only a body,” he laughs,                       
“I’m up shit creek.” His laugh                         
a gritty eruption of rock, salt and breath.
Like me he writes poems                                             
but he does it letter by letter  
on a propped keyboard, the mouth-stick
wobbling between his teeth.
That kind of speed keeps a poet accountable.                         
He won’t ever say, “The grass is very green”
when it’s only green. 

Chana Bloch, "The Color Green" from Blood Honey. Copyright © 2009 by Chana Bloch.  Reprinted by permission of Autumn House Press.

Source: Blood Honey (Autumn House Press, 2009)

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Poet Chana Bloch

Subjects Living, Health & Illness, The Body, The Mind, Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

 Chana  Bloch


Chana Bloch is the author of four books of poems: The Secrets of the Tribe, The Past Keeps Changing, Mrs. Dumpty, and Blood Honey. She is co-translator of the biblical Song of Songs as well as contemporary Israeli poetry—most recently The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai and his Open Closed Open, and Hovering at a Low Altitude: The Collected Poetry of Dahlia Ravikovitch. Among her awards are the Poetry Society of America's Di . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Health & Illness, The Body, The Mind, Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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