Thursday, October 30, 2008

By request

As I promised someone earlier today, here is James Wright's "Northern Pike." I am now four months into my self-imposed one year waiting period before I tattoo the thing, in some big tattoo font, on my muscular back. The one year wait is to help reduce the likelihood of my regretting the decision, but also because I need the time to make my back muscular.

Northern Pike

All right. Try this,
Then. Every body
I know and care for,
And every body
Else is going
To die in a loneliness
I can't imagine and a pain
I don't know. We had
To go on living. We
Untangled the net, we slit
The body of this fish
Open from the hinge of the tail
To a place beneath the chin
I wish I could sing of.
I would just as soon we let
The living go on living.
An old poet whom we believe in
Said the same thing, and so
We paused among the dark cattails and prayed
For the muskrats,
For the ripples below their tails,
For the little movements that we knew the crawdads were making
under water,
For the right-hand wrist of my cousin who is a policeman.
We prayed for the game warden's blindness.
We prayed for the road home.
We ate the fish.
There must be something very beautiful in my body,
I am so happy.

--James Wright

So, we'll say eight months from today, then. That's a lot of words/ pain, I'm realizing.


tsea said...

I am yet to get the impression of my bicycle chain tattooed on the inside of my right calf. I wore a paint version of it for a few days until it washed off. It looked wonderfully greasy as if I'd just dismounted my bike.

Rachel said...

I hope you realize that you'll have to take Myspace-esque back flexing pics in the bathroom mirror after you get this.

I'm excited for you!

Mr. Hill said...

I was not aware of that genre of self-absorbed portraiture.

I better start doing some back push-ups to prepare myself.

Dawn Potter said...

At least Wright's poem is shorter than Anne Sexton's "Letter Written on a Ferry while Crossing Long Island Sound," which she wrote during their love affair. You would have to be really tall to fit that whole poem on your back.

Mr. Hill said...

I had no idea they hooked up.

Now I'm going to be reading those two all weekend instead of the stuff I'm supposed to be doing.

Dawn Potter said...

Also check out Sexton's "For My Lover, Returning to His Wife." That one makes me cry every time.

Dawn Potter said...

P.S. Thanks for making me think about Sexton. She comes up on my own blog entry today.

Mindstroller said...

Ya know, if the whole back thing doesn't work, you could get it to spiral around your arm or something. Or just get a microchip implanted under your skin with the poem on it in every different language you can think of.
and every different font.
and a picture of a puppy, just to be safe.

Mindstroller said...

sorry about ending a sentence with a preposition...

Mr. Hill said...

Yes, of course. Ending with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.