When the Body

When the body wishes to speak, she will
reach into the night and pull back the rapture of  this growing root
which has little faith in the other planets of the universe, knowing
only one, by the bulbs of the feet, their branching of toes. But the feet
have walked with the bones of their ancestors over long trails
leaving behind the roots of forests. They walk on the ghosts
of all that has gone before them, not just plant, but animal, human,
the bones of even the ones who left their horses to drink at the
spring running through earth’s mortal body which has much to tell
about what happened that day.

When the body wishes to speak from the hands, it tells
of  how it pulled children back from death and remembered every detail,
washing the children’s bodies, legs, bellies, the delicate lips of the girl,
the vulnerable testicles of  the son,
the future of my people who brought themselves out of the river
in a spring freeze. That is only part of  the story of  hands
that touched the future.

This all started so simply, just a body with so much to say,
one with the hum of  her own life in a quiet room,
one of the root growing, finding a way through stone,
one not remembering nights with men and guns
nor the ragged clothing and broken bones of my body.

I must go back to the hands, the thumb that makes us human,
but then don’t other creatures use tools and lift what they need,
intelligent all, like the crows here, one making a cast of earth clay
for the broken wing of  the other, remaining
until it healed, then broke the clay and flew away together.

I would do that one day,
but a human can make no claims
better than any other, especially without wings, only hands
that don’t know these lessons.

Still, think of  the willows
made into a fence that began to root and leaf,
then tore off the wires as they grew.
A human does throw off   bonds if  she can, if  she tries, if  it’s possible,
the body so finely a miracle of  its own, created of  the elements
and anything that lived on earth where everything that was
still is.

More Poems by Linda Hogan