Waves lap like lips—sucking nape, chest, hips. Flames lick; tongues of fire. You never know when, or where, you’ll find a body. Rhythms conceal corporeality. Trochees and dactyls, terza and ottava rima, tetrameters and tercets. Sprung rhymes spring out of a stanza, creep after a couplet, hold a reader down to lift aloft (through an octet, sestet)—whispering and tasting. Many mouths: Amor mi mosse, che mi fa paralare. O yonge, fresshe folkes, he or she, / In which that love up groweth with youre age. Some lovers speak when they their Muses entertain.i Whether Pamphilia or a Darker Lady, the question remains:
Is it ever a challenge to fit inside a form: with diametrically-opposed iambs, alliterated with assonance, fraught with masculine and feminine rhymes?
Refrain: refrain. Caesuras are everywhere, more (or less) than synecdoche and synaesthesia. You never know where you’ll find a Faerie or Queen (near an alexandrine, when attending to feet, which suggests legs and thighs) or a key for a lock (or metaphors more primal, banal or blessed): it depends on questions that arise from the quotidian. Did Issa, in his haiku, hear snails sizzling or frying before, finally, crying in a saucepan?ii Did the consummately chaste Ruskin get off on pathetic phallacy? Cruel, crawling foam reaches and retreats, under rosy-fingered Dawn, which never unfurled palms yet touched everything in The Odyssey and The Golden Ass, lingering before clasping, blindingly, retreating with advancing night or imminent storms.
And winds continue to blow—through myths & maps (ears, nostrils, mouths)—besmirched, bloody or clouded with wax, pus, or something more watery that courses through this corpus…
Lufu, Lof, Lowe, Loue, Lievun, Ljuby, Luba, Lubet…
Hands are helpful, but not needed for this. Forget pity. Underwater with you, a grasp feels like nothing. Even in a posture of contortion, of writhing, of release— Parts for whole, engorged: come. How, when, why: undone. Skin slips, entwining, lapping and leaching every surface, never deep enough— deeper— until each pore releases. Scent of sweat. Beckoning— burrowing— breaking— basking—
i From Robert Pinsky’s translation of The Inferno of Dante, Canto II: line 72: “As love has willed, / So have I spoken” (New York: Farrar, 1994) 16-17; Geoffrey Chaucer and Barry A. Windeatt, Troilus and Criseyde: A New Translation, V:1835-36 (New York: Penguin, 2003) 346; Philip Sidney, Astrophil and Stella, I:6, line 1.
ii In his interview with Bill Moyers in The Language of Life, Robert Hass describes translating one of Issa’s haikus (“Bright autumn moon; / pond snails crying / in the saucepan”) and “trying to find the word for the little half cry, half song of pain at the middle of the universe, at the middle of living…” (New York: Doubleday, 1995) 191.
v Montaigne, “Of Cripples,” The Essays of Montaigne: II, trans. E.J. Techmann (London: Oxford UP, 1927) 506-507. “Exhibit S” echoes selections from the forthcoming Galerie de Difformité, with deference to da Vinci: “If the sound is in ‘m’ and the listener in ‘n,’ the sound will be believed to be in ‘s’ if the court is enclosed at least on 3 sides against the listener.” Analogy may be made with Galerie de Difformité: if a sound is made in one Exhibit while Gentle Reader resides in another, (s)he may seek out additional Exhibits to coordinate the orchestrations. For further reading in this manner, visit http://difformite.wordpress.com/. Da Vinci’s words come from Emanuel Winternitz, ed., Leonardo da Vinci as a Musician (New Haven: Yale UP, 1982) 119.