Twelve students cram
around the folding table, two
slump on the nearby sofa.
All have been sober or clean
at least thirty days. Thirty days ago
I got my hair cut, did laundry,
nothing of much consequence,
while they made a new deal
with their bodies, smoked packs,
slept, left friends who use.
Today I set them writing.
They can't sit still; they tip back
in their chairs, throw pens across the table,
speak whatever comes
to mind whenever it comes.
The two boys on the couch
have pulled the afghan over themselves
and are pretending to have sex, moaning
and grinding. Others call out for gum,
show off their pierced tongues.
Eric, after announcing it's been
three days since he slept
then burping loudly, grins sunnily
and looks at his paper, scribbles.
For whatever reason his movement
catches on, and Bill bends his shorn head
over his work; Holly, each nail adorned
with a miniature seascape
complete with palmtree and sky,
writes her name across her empty page.
How obsessed they are with the body:
farts, sex, snot, hunger, thirst, piss,
shit, hard-ons . . . What work it takes
to grow up into your own body, to come
clean with it, to get dirty with it,
to live peacefully inside it as if
that were the most natural thing in the world.
--- From The Armillary Sphere
©2006 Ohio University Press