Body and Soul

For some time now I have been going about
certain that my life is slipping away
while I concern myself with dictionaries,
with bedsheets, pungent oils, mangoes, and daylight,
with the color of lemons and windows that don’t open,
with love, no, not with love, not love,
but with who I love and who loves me.
For some time now I have been going about
certain that my life would continue into a future
distant enough to allow for diversion.

For some time I have been going about
restless, afraid that what I see others will also see:
that the life we are accustomed to is fragile,
uncertain, that it is dependent on luck,
and lucky configurations of matter and fire.
For some time I have been thinking
about what we are going to leave behind:
porcelain cups stained with tea, rings that fit nobody,
mirrors haunted by sleeping faces,
and clocks that tick off the days of our extinction.

So many have gone before us that I am amazed
that we thought we would be different.
But back then our arms were as agile as tigers
and our legs were rooted to the earth
and nothing could upset the balance of our stance;
back then the blood in our veins, despite the heat,
was cool and slow-moving like bitter aloe,
and our thoughts were sweet like the taste of melon,
and our dogs wanted nothing more than to run
up and down inhabiting our wide, new presence.

For some time now I have been going about
desperate to preserve the seed that is eternity
in the world where everything disappears;
for some time I have been learning
to embody materials lighter than fire,
more resilient than skin, which is cut,
or bones, which are fractured.
I don’t only want legs to go about on
or only eyes to navigate anymore,
give me, on top of being a man, a soul
with a focus of such a tempered constitution
that fear and pain and decay cannot unnerve it.
This much is certain: I will not step complacently
into annihilation; no, I will acquaint
myself with disembodied existence now,
anchor my heart in the wind at my back,
and teach my feet the walk that begins with the life
that comes after life, the life we call death.