Mind | Body

By Gregory Djanikian b. 1949 Gregory Djanikian
How do they survive, riven   
as they are, the one undoing   
the other's desire?   

Tell the body to outrun   
the mind, and the mind smirks,   
whispering too loudly
this way   this way,   
blocking all the exits.   

And the body, luxurious   
sensualist by pool side or in bed,   
doesn't it hear the mind's   
impatient machinery ticking
it's time   it's time?

And only in our mind's eye,   
as we're fond of saying,   
someone else's body leaping nimbly   
in jetés of thought, or revealing   
to us Act V, scene iii   
in one gestural flourish,   
body and mind beautifully   

Oh, the mind is eely, slipping   
out of its puzzle boxes,   
loving its own wit.   

And the earnest body: speak of it   
with the least irony, and already   
you've begun to unnerve it.   

Better to let them have their way,   
forgetting about them both   
until they meet again sometime   
as if for the first time   
in library or steam room   
ready to shake hello

or lead you to whatever door there is   
and always the two sets of stairs.

Source: Poetry (April 2000).


This poem originally appeared in the April 2000 issue of Poetry magazine

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April 2000
 Gregory  Djanikian


Gregory Djanikian’s collections include So I Will Till the Ground (2007), Years Later (2000), Falling Deeply into America (1989), and The Man in the Middle (1984). His poems have also appeared in numerous magazines and journals, such as Poetry, the Nation, and the American Scholar, as well as on television, when he was featured on PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

His work explores, among other things, the private and public . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, The Body, The Mind

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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