Nursing Home; Embodiment

Christopher Phelps

Nursing Home

Oh, the echoes
Lalia our endpoints
Know, babies and
The demented

My grandfather
For example
Repeating pack
Dozens of times

We say in a row
Not a column, no
This doesn’t
Support us

Pack, pack, pack, pack
Wishing for a cigarette
Remembered by
The name containing

Twenty
Years or seconds
Burn equally soon
Our Romes down

When finally someone
Gave him one
And feigned a light
He missed his lips

O Echo, Narciss-
Us, we time blur
We postcursors
Post proof

Of what we can’t forget
Lack back, back lack
We inquire within
For a column to right

Embodiment

But if we are only bodies, we bodies
can feel horror at being only bodies

and the fact of this horror means
body must mean
more than the worst way of taking it:
more than the horror suggests . . .

For centuries, we bodies
tried to construct a theodicy of this

thinking it was horror’s liar paradox—
I, horror, do solemnly arise to deny myself
but it was something more modest,
a liar self-limitation, an abridgment

that made bodies billow paradoxically
in a smaller cloud, still more unknown

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