Wednesday, 30 March 2011
La Petite Mort
Of all the human experiences, sex is one of the most interesting. It's a platform, a metaphor, a springboard - something both tangible and intangible; both a highly physical and transcendent act. The thing about sex is that the physical and emotional drives are so intertwined as to be practically inseparable. Even when you feel sure of your motivation, its shadowy twin is always there to haunt you. Sex can be love, hate, need, jealousy, fear, loneliness, destruction - even when you think it's just a hookup.
It's no surprise, then, that sex is often the subject of poetry and literature, those two magical angels of death and self-discovery. Whether you're writing it or reading it, whether you're on the side of creation or birth, death or life, you are presented with a portal to so much more than just a physical understanding. The French expression for orgasm, la petite mort, literally means "little death".
nobody ever wins, nobody ever loses by Sherrie Talgeri, 'I Will See Great Things'
and if i could immerse myself in night, i would/ fill up a bathtub with bruise-skied insomnia/ turn down the taps & drown/ in starwater/ in stars,/ submerged/ constellations/ tucked in the crooks of knees or elbows &/ water-/ fall-/ ing/ down/ a/ collar-/ bone/ naked as an x-ray,/ the universe is loud and swimming in my pupils/ i feel like God:/ so maybe i am,/ omniscient & wrapped in infinity;/ yeah, i could be God/ swaddled in the endless milky way/ with strip-lighting for skin/ & something that only smells like blood,/ that only tastes like pennies, is sprinting/ through my superior vena cava:/ a manufactured deity,/ yes, made/ because this has been the/ making of me/ but wait, though -/ there was an 'if' at the beginning/ of that sentence -/ i didn't draw a bath/ i didn't become God/ so:/ half-full/ half-empty/ not-jesus/ just-human/ i am nothing/ and then you say what you haven't been saying/ this entire time:/ yeah, well,/ that could be anyone
Above, from top, Haruki Murakami's 'South of the Border, West of the Sun' (image: wordsutteredinhaste.blogspot.com), Jeanette Winterson's 'Written On The Body' (image: silverfysh.wordpress.com) and 'I Will See Great Things' Poems by the Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2010 anthology (image: poetrysociety.org.uk).