This weeks Saturday Poetry, matched with mobile photography/art is entitled ‘The Body Remembers’ by Yusef Komunyakaa. ‘The Body Remembers’, explains Komunyakaa, ‘sprung out of my memory of swimming in a creek in Bogalusa, Louisiana, in the 1950s when the entire culture was still segregated—especially in any joyful display of the body. However, we boys often took risks and, coming back to that past stitched with youthful energy, perhaps our bravado was fuelled by a public dare. Such a moment of play is full of celebration, especially during the months of July and August. But also, there is a reality to our naïve recklessness—and there, in the danger of such moments, we learned to come together as brothers.’
Komunyakaa first received wide recognition following the 1984 publication of Copacetic, a collection of poems built from colloquial speech which demonstrated his incorporation of jazz influences.
I have matched this image entitled ‘Summer Screens’ – by @poetry_fish, with this poem.
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The Body Remembers by Yusef Komunyakaa
I stood on one foot for three minutes & didn’t tilt
the scales. Do you remember how quickly
we scrambled up an oak leaning out over the creek,
how easy to trust the water to break
our glorious leaps? The body remembers
every wish one lives for or doesn’t, or even horror.
Our dance was a rally in sunny leaves, then quick
as anything, Johnny Dickson was up opening
his arms wide in the tallest oak, waving
to the sky, & in the flick of an eye
he was a buffalo fish gigged, pleading
for help, voiceless. Bigger & stronger,
he knew every turn in the creek past his back door,
but now he was cooing like a brown dove
in a trap of twigs. A water-honed spear
of kindling jutted up, as if it were the point
of our folly & humbug on a Sunday afternoon, right?
Five of us carried him home through the thicket,
our feet cutting a new path, running in sleep
years later. We were young as condom-balloons
flowering crabapple trees in double bloom
& had a world of baleful hope & breath.
Does Johnny run fingers over the thick welt
on his belly, days we were still invincible?
Sometimes I spend half a day feeling for bones
in my body, humming a half-forgotten
ballad on a park bench a long ways from home.
The body remembers the berry bushes
heavy with sweetness shivering in a lonely woods,
but I doubt it knows words live longer
than clay & spit of flesh, as rock-bottom love.
Is it easier to remember pleasure
or does hurt ease truest hunger?
That summer, rocking back & forth, uprooting
what’s to come, the shadow of the tree
weighed as much as a man.
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