Minnesota Poetry: Richard Solly’s “The Body Reproaches the Soul”

Richard Solly has authored/coauthored three books, and his poetry has received numerous awards, including fellowships from the Bush Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board. Solly currently works as a senior acquisitions editor for Hazelden Publishing, teaches creative writing at The Loft Literary Center, and does community service work in the areas of hospice and arts-in-health care. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Body Reproaches the Soul

And if the body were not the Soul, what is the Soul?

- Walt Whitman

Have you forgotten? I gave birth to you,

bound your wings to my shoulders. My flesh

created desire, the word More, your quest.

Inside muscles and neurons, you reside

not as prisoner, but as strength, energy.

On evenings, when my legs raced down corn rows,

pumped a swing into the crisp air, you named

the sensations – sweat, heart beating, taste of salt

on lips – heavenly. Then, you forgot. For years.

And imagined God bodiless and everywhere.

Now you seek to fly above the earth’s density,

leave behind toenails, stubble, teeth, and escape

through some aperture in the sky. Why?

Here, we taste strawberries, mangoes, plums,

see orioles, smell peonies, dahlias, fuchsia.

Have you forgotten which came first:

the iris or beauty? The kiss or love?

My blood flows through your abstractions;

bones shelter them. Even in the afterlife,

the body’s not excluded. It doesn’t turn to ash

but reassembles, cell by cell. Then it stands

on tiptoe, picks peaches from a branch.

Don’t panic. I’ll carry you on my shoulders

into a garden; everyone we have loved will follow,

wearing the familiar flannel shirts, jeans,

lace collar. Dogs will bark, leaves will fall.

It will be a good day like any other.

- “The Body Reproaches the Soul” by Richard Solly, as printed in his collection From Where The Rivers Come, published by Holy Cow! Press.

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