Friday, June 25, 2010

Headless Travels

Poem of the Day:
"Cephalophore" by Erin Belieu
One Above & One Below

Excerpt from "Cephalophore":

Inside the church, the vaulted
chambers are terminally green,
snow-globed in shadowed dust. I pause
before a pile of melting votives -
squat offerings, anonymous
as organ donations -

and think we raise a host
of inadvertent corpses when
we name a child,
because you're here -

without my even calling,
you come: a boy, too smart, small,
astringent as a lemon,
your fine, wooden posture
already rigid, redolent

of dignity and persecution.

In the first page of Belieu's poem (it spans a little over three pages) I was forced to revive memories and anecdotes; she begins the poem "[H]alfway up Montmarte" (line 1), which was my favorite section of Paris, and Belieu references a saint who, after being assassinated, lived sans head, choosing to carry the heavy (highly functional) body part with him. Part of the reason I chose my confirmation saint (Saint Ceceila) is because I was fascinated by the fact that she lived for three days, following her persecution, without a head.

It is poem like this one that are hard to mesh into my immediate present; the piece holds too fast to a certain memory and I have to, for the sake of my sanity, and heed the clear connection being made between words and past. It is a connection that is also bloody, for words resurface as frequently in our minds as recollections, despite the pain that reliving an awful conversation can bring.

If nothing else Belieu's poetic narrative reminds me of the time-manipulative power of words. In one poem I traveled between my recent trip to Paris and 2nd grade, fascinated with a crazy Catholic saint; right now, I'm not quite sure which place I'd rather be.

A Poem A Day Audrey


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