Katherine: Cross Examination

Is it true that bodies are bomb casings, engines

to surface rich men's floors with granite,

heaven's holding pens, and canvases for giddy

torturers who know the special shade

of each part's cruor, and scythes we rock

until fields are baled in the beds of dusty trucks?

Is it true that we are marrow-filled

and pulse with blood, that our minds

are built to suffer, are tortured on the rack

of government, grief, regret and work

so that our hands may tingle, our pupils dilate

like racing trains rushing toward spectators

at a crowded line, that when barstools folded

us together you slyly smiled as if we shared

a secret—a star so distant no one else

had yet discovered it, a citrine coast

where we could lie with only gaudy crabs for company

until our skins were glossed and slipped over each

other like breakers washing wet sand?

Do you know enough of love to understand,

or have priests and politicians

persuaded you that love is adolescent

hand-holding, old couples slumped across

their smudgy newspapers, or brief attacks

before men roll over in the dark?

Your mind cannot ignore

its vessel any more than astronauts can

abandon ship and wing off to the moon.

Our bodies are our brains—

any sculpture worth a cent

will tell you that. Here is something women know

and generals locked in war rooms and poets

blasting tunnels through Parnassas:

we are horrible in any state but bliss.

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