In the Tannour Oven
Stitched into the gutted belly of the calf:
a fat young lamb, dressed and cleaned,
its organs removed from the cave of bone.
And within the lamb: a stuffed goose.
And in the goose’s belly: a mortar round.
And within the mortar round: a stuffed hen.
And in the hen’s belly: a grenade.
And within the grenade: a stuffed thrush.
In the thrush: a .50 caliber bullet.
In the .50 caliber bullet: seasoned
with murri, oil, and thyme—a wedding ring.
Ah, love—when you undo the stitches,
take your time. I have love letters
stuffed inside of me, these tiny bodies
made heavy by their own labored breathing.
from Phantom Noise (Alice James Books, 2010)
I'm interested here in the complex intimacy portrayed between this speaker and his beloved, an intimacy that grapples with the violences occasioned by experiences in war. Another intimacy is the one implied between the poet and the reader or listener, the poet warning and assuring the reader about what struggles to be contained between them also. And in the context of this blog, the relationship between a helper and someone coming to be helped is finally brought to mind, especially when the latter lives with what has almost been unbearable. What a triumph loving can sometimes be!