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Body Talk: Part 1

Invisible Man

A somewhat odd thought about rain, leading into a discussion of sex.
What is man, that You are mindful of him, You have made him a little lower than the angels…
David, Psalm 8:4-5

We are the insect life of Paradise - Bruce Cockburn.

Noah get you ark out!

Its been pounding rain for days, and now the stop … but the ground looks to be all liquid glass with clumps. The canopy has shed. Three days ago the world was all flame-ball and color with the red-red maple and the kick ball trees (Sweetgum) and even the brick red oak …. And now, the sky is fallen at our feet and lodged in the gutters.
And now, I want to record it before I forget. We were headed back from the Tall Grass and on the express when the deluge hit … and it hit me, another odd idea.
I was thinking for a moment, what it would be like to see the road, but without the cars. I mean, we would see the effect of the cars but not the cars themselves. Think of paper mashie' over a balloon, then pop the balloon. I popped the cars with my mind until everywhere, zooming down the expressway were big humps of water like glass whales. The rain would hit the invisible car, part hard and firm around the windshield and the top, then whip with frost and mist into tail behind. Zooming glass whales!
And then I think. What would it be like if all of a sudden we could stop all time … so much so, that the water gushed around the popped whale cars would just hang in the air like ice … like a kind of frozen bubble tent … or dear, like the shell of shed cicada. And then I thought of myself walking up and over the ice cicadas … kind of like when I was a kid, and they drained the Mohawk river form the channels, but left some of the ice until the river flowed out from under and left standing skins of ice or little crashed icebergs. Of course, in that world, you could fall through that ice and drop through air until you hit the unfrozen water below … as I once tried … but I 'm moving from the thought.
So I climbed about in my mind on the frozen skins with all the spray kicked out… and then, I thought, what if we could even freeze the rain as if fell, not like sleet but just stuck in space at a given moment.
Little frozen points of water sprayed through space like metal bubbles.
About and near the ground, the space a frozen stiff would be so dense, that you probably couldn't move … but may be if you could get just a few feet off the ground … you could, with great contortions, squeeze in and out of the drops .. Or better yet, even climb to the heavens. And then I thought that the tails of the falling drops, even as they were stuck in time .. would be so sharp, that you should have to wear iron boots and gloves just to grab hold of the frozen points! So, HA! How is this for sport? Climb some quarter mile up with raindrops for hand-holds and then …. At the top, get in some ball and fall down like a Ping-Pong ball between nails … and guess where you will land!
A somewhat related odd thought, fifteen years later.
Today I see peoples walking about as hard dense clouds. We are like nimbus, climbing up and budding like a towering thunderhead. I see us as a kind of cloud pushed out from the center. Everything is building from the middle and pushing out at the skin. And now I wonder, what is it that defines the boundary? I know that bellies can burst and pour, But what is it that holds the face from drooping down to the knee, or the length of the arm in check? I never cease to be amazed, always amazed at the idea of people spun out from a micro-speck. And here in this speck … all the directions for boundary.
Today, I think of people as walking systems. The dancing bones. I think I got the idea some years ago from an old biology text. The center featured these clear plastic overlays, each overlay showing some other system part. They stacked them so that you had the feeling you were going deeper into the body interior with each overlapped flip.
Skeletons we know. I've seen them real, or cast in plastic ----. We know the scary bones. Even so, I like to think of people as walking skeletons. Like those chasing pirates of the Black lagoon.
And now …. I see you talking to me, yakking with your maniac jaw … I see too, skeletons in cars … or the bones spinning underneath the skater, or stretched like a diver in the air then zooming under water … or all the bones in New York city walking down the street.
And then I think of this … that the bones within us are not these known bones of hard, but rather, green stems --like maple innards that you couldn't really break because of the life-ness. Lifeness? I mean … we see bones when they are hard and bleached and dried. But the real bones are bloody and wet and working and joined.
And now … for my next trick … I see peoples as floating brains. These are not just the brains as held in the shell like a walnut, but the brain with traipsing tail. I see the nerves pouring out, and the ganglia, so that in the end the thing striped down looks like some great Indian headdress or a Man of War jellyfish. The tendrils and lines are branched like choral or feathers or something … so I think of all these walking brains with eyes rolling on the surface with seeing.

We are the walking pollywogs with tails bent and draped.
And now I think of brains systems and nerves turning over the uneven bars. A gymnasts is on the bar, but all I see is the brain and the spray and the ropes of nerves and frayed nerve spray rolling through he sky and about the bar.
(sung) WE ARE THE WALKING POLLYWOGS … with tails bent and draped.
Today I watched as kids bounded down the halls of school. (janitor job) They were looking at each other's outers -- The eyes and teeth and hair. But I saw teeth yakking from the skull and wondered for all this: How is it, that with all this engineering on the in, we pay so much attention to the out? Take two kids, one considered handsome the other awkward … strip away the shell and then … ha! Who holds the beauty now?
And then I saw them walking and prancing and talking and sharing eyes. These drifting brains all floating like Indians at the powwow with the nerve tails.
And I think .. What is each person but a great black hole in space? Here are our brains like bottom feeders, sucking in and storing the world. Everywhere each brain … with related portals walks, the world pours in and lodges. The world coding into the gray and stuck in code. The world of yesterday, that unthinkable thing … stored as chemistry.
And I think too … though I've said this somewhere before -- of the world around each person -- swelling. For each person, the things close to them are big … but we know the world is not bigger near the person. So I hold in my mind a model of the world swelling as it nears each person.
Dear ... Off the thought.. After the walking brains I strip folks down to their innards.
And now there is the food man. I consider the system of eating and excreta. I see people walking like cobras lifted up from a pile of garbled hose. If I think of just the mouth with teeth and the esophagus and the pouch of stomach and beyond. And I see the belching singing snake. The snake has swallowed an egg and this is the stomach.
Sheesh …Don't we all look fine. We are singing out both ends and breathing part of what we eat back into the air. Dear this sounds gross. Where is my brain tonight?
And now, I think of us as blood.
The blood is so much through us, that if you could melt away all the not-blood we would look like walking red shadows. Or maybe like trees. Consider each person a cloud of red, all thick in the center with pulse and flow, the heart or red speeding out into the arteries and veins to capillary mist and beyond.
Here of course, the blood is held within the form of skin. But let the system break … let the coolant pour from the hose … and see the fear.
What is it about blood that seems to be like looking at something sacred, and undue spilling seems obscene? I don't have this feeling when my car springs a leak in the radiator, but give me spilled blood on the page and film and I might have seen an angel or a demon. Spilled blood looks holy or obscene or too real. I don't know what I mean to say except that blood seems more like the place where spirit and flesh collide ... or, as the Bible says: "The life is in the blood."

Finally, I think of us as air. It ' s harder for me to think of this system, for while I can see the lungs breaking into me like split trees, the air then blends with blood and then into cell. So when I think of us as walking respiration systems, I not only see lungs , but a thin mist in the form of the body and whipped faster in the places that would be blood … but for this exercise we don't see the blood. And I guess, just to see it, we should think of the air in us with color, or the air in us blends with the air about.

And now I am thinking of the continual trade. I take in air. I mix it on the surface of lung like a fish with gill and send some part of what I just took in into me. I am doing it now. I am breathing, interfacing with the wind that has entered me. And the wind in me is growing a tree. The lungs inside me are like little elm trees with skin stretched over the branches. And the alveoli are like leaves giving off water into the wind ... but here, my lungs are evaporating wind into the blood.

And later , this soiled wind. The non-living wind entered me -- a living system -- and for a moment was a part of life without being alive … but essential to my life … and then left. For some brief minute I transform dead air into something of living air … then discard it … only to let someone else draw on the wind that was in me.

This is weird. The whole planet tonight is belching, sawing, squeezing, and otherwise reworking the wind. We are the walking eddies. The unmoved air is suddenly moved in and then stored, and stolen, and made different, and then blown out. And we all drink and move in this same ocean of our corporate life. My wind will be your wind and the wind of the dog will later be in me or with the horses or later yet in some shark as the wind in me goes over sea and crashes with the waves and makes into the water and the water bears some trace of me that should enter into the life of the shark.

Tonight I think of the air in the world. Tugged in all these little bags. The wind in New York City is being pulled by the lungs of 12 million souls. In and out of little brown boys and gypsies and business tycoons. And we blend our breath with diesel and perfume and stench and old urine in the subway and the roses of Central Park .

So what is this air of our common life ? Lifeless, yet so a part of life … and merging with and giving life … and in some way becoming , for a moment , life … only to depart from life back into the silence of stuff.

Today I see the world as walking wind.
Final meditation:

Today I see people as walking globs of fat. I boil all the things that are not fat away until I see walking through the world bundles of fat bouncing through the air. We have these great moons of fat folding from our bellies like backpacks strung forward. And then there are those little hammocks of fat swinging from fat lady arms. And finally the mounds. Those double-barreled oranges … I am thinking of the walking bundles of fat pressed forward at the world, and I am seeing the eyes of men pointed at the fat …and I am wondering what has God done to design us that our eyes or so much aware of the double-bubbled fat launched at us like a Viking catamaran.


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