Joshua Weiner

Joshua Weiner
Photo by Ralph Alswang

 

CANTO

 

In the orchard
when you reached
your mother’s hand
to pick
a blushing pear, or
her shoulder
tensed — you, searching
your bag for
something you need
down there
somewhere.
When you caught me
having gained
my father’s
gait, voice-drop,
nose-prow, or
his weight:
new belongings!
— Such knowledge
like a body
we grow into,
bodies aging
into bodies
we knew.
No fading mansion
as Shakespeare says
our bodies
like our comprehension
one day will rise
like a foal on shaky legs
and look back
for its mother
gone already
to graze another
hill, to stand alone
in every kind of weather.
Is this how
we lose ourselves
to come together?
Perfection
cannot hide
in imperfection’s
change, nor eyes
like coals
increase without gain,
dark stars of knowing
without the questioning.
I see them kindle,
your eyes, in sleep’s
firmament
like clues to a future
unreadable until
looking away
I am less blind, more
quickly tuned
to the strain
I hope to find,
to outrace, un-
bind.
So Ta-Urt,
the hippo, lion, woman, croc
daughter of Ra
who devours
the dead
with encompassing
rendering maw
& tits drained
by endless providing
is submerged
on the papyrus
“painted over”
and cannot be
viewed directly
however I twist
to trace the vein
of ink on the trembling
dream leaf of the book—
though you can see
she holds the ankh
or is it a knife
she pulls from the sheath
approaching slipping
behind my vision for
the anti-aubade
I can’t shake,
wrestling to wake
to escape, no
to embrace even
as I rouse:
hope, desire, belief, fear
in flesh refined,
in sleep
passing from age
to age faster
than we sense
the day stream past—
I feel her in
the male breast
softening, as female
lips darken
with garden shade,
her hot humus
breath an assurance
we share, uneasy
but undenied (the bounty
given, given
back) who still
sleep alongside
each other
no longer so
opposite, a new
merging into
governing growth,
your shoulder now
with its singular mark
rising & falling
like a white feathered
shag on a swell, riding
the ebb tide, and below
the surface of things
another nourishment
where nothing’s
loosely spent, as
grass becomes grain
becomes bread becomes
host; as wood
turns to flame
into light; as blossom
flowers into
crown — we plant
each other
in the one bed
and launch
through night
on a sea of milk.

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JOSHUA WEINER is the author of three books of poetry, The World’s Room, From the Book of Giants, and most recently, The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish (2013), and is the editor of At the Barriers: On the Poetry of Thom Gunn. He is a recipient of the Whiting Writers’ Award, the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2013-2014). His poems and essays have appeared in Best American Poetry, The New York Review of Books, The Nation, The American Scholar, Village Voice, Chicago Tribune, The New Republic, Threepenny Review, Poetry, Washington Post, Slate, and elsewhere. He teaches at the University of Maryland and lives with his family in Washington DC.

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Read more work by Joshua Weiner in B O D Y:

 
Poem in the October 2012 Issue
Two poems in the September 2012 Issue
Review of Joshua Weiner’s The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish in the July 2013 Issue
Review of Uljana Wolf & Christian Hawkey’s Sonne from Ort by Joshua Weiner in the April 2013 Issue

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