The Body-Object and Other Examples
Translated by Lloyd Schwartz
1. The Body-Object The object is this body that envelops and subjugates, common noun transporting allegories. The body is this object, necessary adjective stranger and less our own than the least of our dreams. This body—object that’s neither mine, nor yours, nor death’s, nor any other possessive pronoun’s. The earth’s. It’s hers. The earth which receives us warm, open, and willing. The earth’s and its elements. This object is the earth’s, the earth that eats you, body and life (are they the same?), fruit and life (your seeds). And finally, whatever it may be, this peel wrapped around us: thing, earth, or grammar contemptuous of the metaphysical, the body is a peroration from father to son (or to mother) and the soul—the soul has nothing to do with it, nothing but its location. 2. The House The house is like the body: brick is the cell under the stucco, a temporary shelter of blood, sand, and whitewash, that in the beginning lived in water and grew paws until it made itself real, its secret places infringed-upon, its rooms undressed and bolted by shame, an object derived from a joint effort that plants itself (in Space) then blossoms (in Time), and when it blossoms, it gives birth to Light and Beauty (curtains and flowers). 3. The Building Body, house, building they look like brothers in Height, Shape, and Fear and in being solitary. Solitary objects. I see a construction glittering enormous and I tremble down to my foundation and moral fibers. There, that which corrupts men: bed and table, bread and woman, love and the roof that protects us —superimposed. There, the laces and the pajama. There the “What do I owe?” and to whom. There the clipper and the lock of hair on the floor. There the naked body, as if we’re in a doctor’s office. The wool. The bullet. The irony. The window. The cement. The betrayal. The X-woman. The radius and circumference of the other. The way to the top and the way of falling into yourself, into the earth and on top of your brothers. There the construction— a crude invention a cube of loneliness. 4. The Room Through the door, I reach the room of visits and feasts, of deaths and long-winded ashtrays. Curtains that take flight g l a s s surrounds grazing tables and carpet-pastures. On the sofa, apple-shaped hips are sitting comfortably, ankles woven in nylon are balancing. Enter through here, eat, and leave. Enter the same way you leave and discussion isn’t always polite. There the stereo—singing— its wires and crystals running needles over the eardrums inside hi-fi grooves. From this box, trills in 3-D. —Like some cake? I’ll get it for you. —Like some whiskey? I’ll bring it. There your eyes fix on the curved video image, arriving at a laugh through familiar channels. Who knows how they get in with their ads and flashes their cowboys and thousand theaters. Here you spend the evening on your favorite chair until the image wipes itself out, or sleep wipes out everything. 5. The Table I went to harvest you from the Vegetable I went to mine you from the Mineral and I put you back together as an animal who, now naked, completes the room. Tablet profound and blank where I’m reborn, where my fists where my forks and my ancestors in me reflect on your varnish the same scar. Slave shoulders, flat thirst, how you lower yourself to the circle of hunger of friendships and chairs and well-turned legs where rounded restless hips seat themselves sumptuously. Made well or made badly the plane that made you chipped out of the ground the bread of the man that made you. PEACE! people shout somewhere over the table WAR! people shouted over the table before: flat kingdom sculpted in marble map hippodrome of passing beasts. Above you I bend my flesh, my crystal, dry fists, coins, cathedrals and staring I discover in your varnish the weight the image the scar of this my body that today is alive and contemplates you and that tomorrow you’ll be holding up flickering in the candlelight. 6. The Telephone Doubled over the black trunk, ear and mouth inverted over glass or varnish —you rest black object acquired at great cost —you rest corpse rounded at four corners, open fork that feeds the mouth —over glass or varnish. The clearest tinkling bell of distances, you transmit plea and shout mineral and organic. Dull, the hand that picks you up: volatile indicator perfumed nail polish. You know how to raise from the linens the naked body. Suddenly the Other possesses you and the door slams. You receive smile and spittle without protest, grave promises in loving tones. Annoying and stingy, why don’t you offer your opinion? You’re just a dark spot, cold and motionless over glass or varnish. They use you (I know) because you don’t distort —your speech is frozen. 7. The Refrigerator White and rounded on the kitchen tiles, near the table with so many feet. Wire after wire. Indoors. Petrified water turned white alaskan or siberian “creamagulated.” Inside: unripened fruit harvested from a flowering field a dozen of white, oval things inside a shell, with a yolk inside the clear, with white drawn from tits still warm between the paws, dish after dish holding lunch, beer and relief pouring out. —Does So-and-So have? why don’t we have? at the cost of in spite of thanks to Before the visit, the white rears up. Pull the handle, the white mouth gapes: beside, above, under, over, with, beyond Looking for some pretext (to the heat, to summer) I make a poem with prepositions. 10. W.C. You are the end of house of man of poem the ultimate remnant of the ultimate remnant. Seated in the rounded white nook of the commodious accommodation You wait incommodious intestine You receive mute, naked the integral verb (aquatic mouth gaping) Humiliated more than humiliating you’re the general separator of good and evil pushbutton or chain rooommm rooommm blog blog blong rooaingg rooommmrooommm chainngg language blank again.
Translated with the assistance of Rogério Zola Santiago
The following have appeared previously:
- “The Building,” Partisan Review, Winter 1995
- “The Table,” Agni 48 (The Translation Issue), 1998
- “The Telephone,” ibid.
- “The Body-Object,” “A Contemporary Chapbook,” edited by Gail Mazur, Provincetown Arts, Summer 2003