When Body

Arms and legs carry you into long grass up the hill.
Touch is a fingertip traced along your cheek,
taste a strawberry, seeds withholding earth’s deep secret.

When night’s clotted clouds burst into flame
and all birds swim, morning wind gathers air, embroiders
white pine and crickets stitch grass into light.

Before reading lifts letters into words, and time sorts itself
into past, present, future, body is everything you know,
everything you need, your only country.

When the revolution comes, thunder blasts birds from branches
and you no longer recognize landscape. Blood flows
and breasts rise, moon rides low on the horizon, eclipses sun.

Oh, yes, then your country raises walls and for some time
you are held prisoner until another body finds yours
and both come together, one element spinning into light

and all senses open. Excalibur cleaves stone.
You alone are both fruit and tree when body is again all.
You control breath. Sound wafts sighs, stumbles heavily

from your lungs as the head crowns and your child leaves
the kingdom. For almost ever after the body holds its own,
reaches arms out to hold and touch and carry. Apples fall

and you harvest all that grows within the gates of the village
you have crafted between easy souls, the bodies around yours
folding, enfolding, then coming loose, going off and alone.

You discover the body is once more at center, strain at the edge
of the forest, rest at the slope of the hill, try to recall
strawberries still sun-warm on your tongue when the moon

walks slow. Nights you watch from a frosted window
you have closed against the cold, closed to hold in
the old smells: clothes washed, shoes polished, stove stoked

and burning. Alone you hunger for words spoken, birdcalls,
a hand cupping your cheek like a song and the long hill deep
in green glows behind you, beyond the orchard.