Witnessing and the Body



Slender neck and sweat-dampened forehead,

tasting tongue and the clash of teeth,

lungs filled with smoke from the late-burning lamp.


The scratch of pen on parchment,

lines curving around bodies

as they sink into the blood-soaked earth. 


Inside out we feel it pulsing in our neck,

hear it in our cotton-stuffed ears,

the things we can no longer remember. 


The sound of the shutter,

the commotion of the bird’s wings

as it crashes into the glass. 


With milky smiles 

the teeth drop from their lips,

that same frail state of death and birth.


Blind eyes sunken into their chests,

swollen gums and ticking clocks,

the dead that never die. 


And now his saintly mandible

has been laid to rest in a goldfish bowl,

studded with glass cabochons.


Born bathed dressed loved bruised buried resurrected.




Image: Otto Dix, 1986, Dance of Death, the Year 17 (Dead Man’s Hill) (Totentanz anno 17 [Höhe Toter Mann]), Museum of Modern Art

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