“defuse your body’s insurgence”


Body Bereft
Antjie Krog

wednesday 18 june
over my terrified
body my hand moves again up to
my breast again hoping
that the lump of clay will not be there
that the hand misconstrued
that it has indeed vanished in the

meantime. the mountain stands
stripped clean and burnt through. I live by the
breath of the mountain alone.
I have no other competence. on
the windward side fringes of light sing, on
the lee side there is nought

from the waist you
blindly suppose yourself
secretly whole, you try to defuse

your body’s insurgence
against your body. let the stone lump
grow cold in the fog, let
the pine trees tilt like umbrellas in
a cortège, let my thoughts
steam to ripeness in sorrow. but I,

I am occupied this
morning: softly I coax my breasts to
unwind in foam, let them
freely drowse in tranquil fragrance, then
I rinse them in honey
to luminous shape and there where the

mammogram reveals its
blackest clot, I lather in light, I
caress with the sweetest
tonality of breath, of light-limbed
tintinnabulous bliss
there the light soaks in so blindingly

that the black membrane feels
itself blessed by blue, diluting its
viscous toxic polyps,
dissolving them to effluence. see
the rust bleed like biestings
from my nipples. Whole like a whiplash

I want to live on this earth.
(late night)
fuck-all. I feel fuck-all
for the life hereafter – it’s now that
I want to live, here that

I want to live. when I
look at you I grow sad, oh yes as
sad as the heart can see

sunday 22 june
my heart
whimpers on her hinges. I want to
touch something, hold something,
revive the wholeness that once was mine.

I want to return with
my previous body. I am not
I, without my body
only through my body can I in-
habit this earth. my soul
is my body entire. my body

embodies what I am.
do not turn against me, oh do not
ever leave me. do not
cave in around me, do not plummet
away from me, do not
die off on me, do not leave me with-
out testimony. I
have a body, therefore I am. step
into the breach for me –
yes, you are my only mandate to
engage the earth in love.

monday 23 june
the last rains of winter fall
faster than yearning or winter trees
with lymphatic systems
against the wintry light. it’s as if
I am young again in
my upper arms suddenly, and smooth

at the back of my head.
my body glows complete, my elbows
hang free with my senses
extended over my skin. I see
the mountain, maintaining
herself on her cliffs, containing her-

self in stone as stone, her-
self complete in herself. she decays
with the earth in the tongue
of eternity. I can do nought
but ascend in her with
roaring immaculate radiance

sunday 3 october
steadily the days curve
more brightly over me. the blossoms
are crushed by the wind. on
some inclines I shall never saunter
again. from the earliest
times you have been identified daily

and appropriated with
eyes and inhalations. only in
some imaginations
are you methodically flaked off.
my heart knows that you have
nothing to do with us, that you are

lost deep in the concept
of mountain, that the word mountain is
an abstract noun, that blue
is a verb, stone a friend, for next to
you I become she and
she he and we irrevocably

become us, because you
remain you. all in-
cantations of yearning
tilt in my chest. my pulse resounds with
poems and axillary
feathers, my blazing gizzard

buzzes with rhyme. I hone
my heart to yours. I shall never let
you leave me. words my mouth
will lose – my seams will be undone – I
speak many tongues but not
one of them any longer my own

Photo by Ari Spada on Unsplash

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