The Body Is a Delicate Thing
Sometimes a scalpel will slit the body open
as if it were a plum.
Sometimes a darkness inside
will gather and hold.
Sometimes the body trembles and shrinks
as if rain were battering it with its needles
and a coldness entering all its doorways
that might never stay shut.
How many things must occur
before the body falls asleep in a field
indifferent to anything around it?
Sometimes it has the power to resist
the arrow or bullet by allowing
a sharpness to pass through.
Sometimes it enfolds the hardest intrusions
into its many crevices.
Once there was a heaven of atoms
floating like small enticements
without ever attracting each other.
Now the body parting the air
is like a small earth walking over the earth
below a transparent sky.
Even when the forces unloosen
and the body unbinds,
you will find its smudge
on everything it has touched,
the wineglass elm it leaned against one night
feeling the sanctuary of elms,
the window whose light shone like a moon
on the city streets of rivers and rain,
the body it lay beside feeling the weight of body,
the body it loved and the body that loved it,
and the whisper of body in between.
Gregory Djanikian reads “The Body Is a Delicate Thing”
Gregory Djanikian has published seven collections of poems with Carnegie Mellon, the latest of which is Sojourners of the In-Between (2020). His poems have been published in numerous journals and anthologies and have been featured on Fresh Air and NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He was for many years the director of creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania and now lives with his wife, the painter Alysa Bennett, near Philadelphia.