Friday, April 06, 2007

7. Tongue

It is common knowledge that dogs hang out their tongues to cool down,
that salamanders shoot out a finger to hook their prey,
and mollusks grind food on theirs, a rough tongue called a radula.
If the human body is a book, our tongue is a language.

I could sing of my tongue in a lyric,
praise it from its tip to its root, reveling in its marvelous muscles
before revealing its shortcoming in a well-turned climax,
a kind of masturbation (read the ear and eye poems);

I could give you a story
about a boy who held his tongue
until he jumped his first man, and could not stop licking him,
then you would give me your story, and we would compare notes (turn to the neck poem);

Or I could re-tell a myth about the tongue,
the rape of Philomela or some fable about the salamander,
changing a little but keeping the familiar elements,
and explain the nature of the world (look under “arm-pit”);

but my tongue is rough, like a radula, and here’s my diagnosis:
the tongue tip, a holograph of the heart, is inflamed.
Open your mollusk mouth, stick out your tongue like one Tibetan greeting another,
that I may examine how you are, and what is to be blamed.

Plan for this poem-in-progress

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