For the Fifty (Who Made PEACE with Their Bodies)


In the green beginning,
in the morning mist,
they emerge from their chrysalis

of clothes: peel off purses & cells,
slacks & Gap sweats, turtle-
necks & tanks, Tommy's & Salvation

Army, platforms & clogs,
abandoning bras & lingerie, labels
& names, courtesies & shames,

the emperor's rhetoric of defense,
laying it down, their child-
stretched or still-taut flesh

giddy in sudden proximity,
onto the cold earth: bodies fetal or supine,
as if come-hithering

or dead, wriggle on the grass to form
the shape of a word yet to come, almost
embarrassing to name: a word

thicker, heavier than the rolled rags
of their bodies seen from a cockpit:
they touch to make

the word they want to become:
it's difficult to get the news
from our bodies, yet people die each day

for lack of what is found there:
here: the fifty hold, & still
to become a testament, a will,

embody something outside
themselves & themselves: the body,
the dreaming disarmed body.
And if the exposed
flesh of women spells,
as they stretch prone, a word

they wish the world
might wear, the tenderness
of unbruised skin, juice

of itself unsipped? And then?
Here, where flesh is marked
& measured in market

scales of the ogler's eyes,
will they fall, cast down
to their own odd armor,

or gloat on the novel glut
of flesh, the body commodity
no Godiva can set free?

But what if unbuffed generals,
grandfathers unashamed, stood
before camera's judgment,

vulnerables genuflecting
to the cold, their sag noses
shying from all eyes—

unjockstrapped, uncupped,
an offering of useless nipples
& old maps of animal fur

tracing their chests? It's no use.
Shoot out the lights, suture
the lids, & trace with fingertips

the blind-dark rooms
of what we are, houses
of breath, sheltered & unshelled.