Friday Poem


The body is never silent. Aristotle said that we
can’t hear the music of the spheres because it is the
first thing that we hear, blood at the ear. Also the
body is brewing its fluids. It is braiding the rope of
food that moors us to the dead. Because it sniffles
and farts, we love the unpredictable. Because
breath goes in and out, there are two of each of us
and they distrust each other. The body’s reassuring
slurps and creaks are like a dial tone: we can
call up the universe. And so we are always
talking. My body and I sit up late, telling each other
our troubles. And when two bodies are near each
other, they begin talking in body-sonar. The art of
conversation is not dead! Still, for long periods, it is
comatose. For example, suppose my body doesn’t
get near enough to yours for a long time. It is dis-
consolate. Normally it talks to me all night: listening
is how I sleep. Now it is truculent. It wants to speak
directly to your body. The next voice to hear will
be my body’s. It sounds the same way blood sounds
at your ear. It is saying Ssshhh, now that we, at
last, are silent.

by William Matthews
Sleek for the Long Flight
White Pine Press, 1988