Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Book of the Body

“O my body! I dare not desert the likes of you in other men and women, nor the likes of the parts of you…” —Walt Whitman, “I Sing the Body Electric”

1. Head

2. Neck


Practicing for survival, I broke the neck of a chicken with my hands
at Sarimbun scout camp, where boats disgorged the Japanese divisions.
I grabbed the hen by the neck
(tubular like a stethoscope)

and, in the way demonstrated,
swung it round
and with a flick of the wrist snapped
it to the ground.

The hen got up,
squawking, scrabbled the dirt, and shat.
Only mine got up, not the others
at the cooking fires of Kestrel, Eagle, Kingfisher, Merlin and Falcon.

I was Hawk. My patrol watching me, I seized the hen again
and this time did my job as a patrol leader should.
Someone else plucked the bird in hot water.
We baked it in mud, ate it with salt, and pronounced it good.

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