Amy Mae Schimpf
Ship, Your Heart
after Guy Davenpoort's "Translations of Anakreon."
The great round heart inside your lung ship, where the dogs float toward Fiji or other Pacific places on long fir trunks de-limbed, planed, and polished to resemble steel, or the bone that structures your thigh. Nights and nights the dogs circle the ship, chewing at each other's ankles and pulling at ropes with rope-burned mouths. Days the cormorants swoop down on them to smell their loosening flesh and wait until they can reap, their eyes narrowed on the muscled haunches. There you breathe-on this death ship-there you live with cast-offs. Seagull your elbow. Herring your foot. Boat-cracking swale your mighty heart.
Body: machine. Body: tool.
Body: terror. Body: dream.
Body on a sidewalk gathers
infections like lint. Takes
the boot-toes of angry walkers
while dreaming of jaws and fists.
Body under a bridge breathes
frost. Eats mosquitoes. Hardly
knows itself. Under what hands
does it shake? Who pulled
that flap of skin back?
Iclaim this body
Mom told me bodies, girls' bodies, have only a few uses: prettiness, play, and
reproduction. She said body requires silence, a bit of prayer to keep it
wholesome, a nick at the skin
because body is torture/gut temple
until god takes spirit to the next cage. (I added the cage,
she says three temples of heaven, and hell).
I learned a language of body holes, run-down battlements. Let. Give. My body
sucked in all toxics, words mumbled over its sleep. Sacrament
of terror. Tool shed. Skin machine.
Amy Mae Schimpf is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. She is also working on a memoir of the years she spent hoboing around the U.S.
"I don't know if you'd call it a front porch, but it was at the front of our house and it was a deck that looked out onto the forest and Mt. Hood in Oregon. It was about twenty feet from the ground. My sisters and I would pile pillows and blankets on the grass below, work our way along the outside of the railing, and jump. We often got hurt, but the rush of falling was addictive. I think of writing poetry as causing similar flashes of exhilaration, and more than a few bruises."