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from Testament Part IV: Infolds & Unspires

The footing of the human body is so complicated.
A kestrel breaks upward into beauty. Can gender be a lyric form?
If the river says so. The river says.

Is not God, is not one of the many little gods, innumerable.
Is not the body, but inheres within the body.

This question of appetite, of dietary laws.
A bit of broiled fish, to prove that one is not a ghost
infects the superanimate, the origin (as it were) of species.

Painters differ on whether the body of Icarus was recovered
wearing clothing, or what clothing it was wearing.
Identifying marks (wing shear).
Contents of stomach. Toxicology report.
Washed up as far away as Tasmania, New Zealand
The girl remembers her mother said she was cold,
& then they were in the water a long time, sometimes together.

Enucleated, the body steals from the other animals
because an image tells it to? Allele for lactose digestion
moving slowly across western Europe
in time for colonialism, the triangular trade, mfecane.
Why does my wrist itch, why this particular
fire in the belly of language where gender rested.

Tender: easily affected, sensitive. By external physical forces
or impressions; acutely sensitive to pain, easily hurt.
Susceptible to moral or spiritual
influence, impressionable, sympathetic. Of a ship:
leaning over too heavily under sail-pressure,
“crank” rather than “stiff.” Sensitive to pious emotions
or injury; touchy, nervous, ready to take offense.

The pageant revolves, but slowly, in time with an invisible music.


{To read more of this piece, please purchase Issue 39.2.}


G.C. Waldrep’s most recent books are Your Father on the Train of Ghosts (BOA Editions, 2011), a lyric collaboration with John Gallaher; The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral (Ahsahta, 2012), co-edited with Joshua Corey; and a chapbook, Susquehanna (Omnidawn, 2013). He teaches at Bucknell University, edits the journal West Branch, and serves as Editor-at-Large for The Kenyon Review. His long poem Testament is scheduled for publication by BOA Editions in May 2015.