Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Poems: The Space Closest to Our Bodies - by William Studebaker

Imagine some tan grass and sage,
monoliths and blow outs,
flatness the feet cannot believe,
distance the eye laughs at
as it fumbles blindly
with the ends of all time.

Imagine everything here moves
(even the cactus will come close
to a sleeping man
and the beetle will tunnel
under the arch of his foot)
and a full half-moon
is enough light for gray things.

Here our secret voice is too loud.
When we think, the desert hushes...
so quiet jack rabbits can hear
owls listening with one ear...
so quiet when a vulture beckons
with the bones of our hand
our shadow makes a dragging sound
like dry skin over rock.

Inside our selves, there is nothing
anyone can say to us.
We learn to hear a voice
with no sound, with no tongue
with no mouth, as if the air
itself was a way of speaking.

We have become easily startled
because we are living
in the space closest to our bodies. 

*     *     *     *     *

William Studebaker was an Idaho poet and essayist. He published five collections of poetry and coedited Idaho's Poetry: A Centennial Anthology and Where the Morning Light's Still Blue: Personal Essays about Idaho. "The Space Closest to Our Bodies" is published in his book Travelers in an Antique Land, which also includes high-desert photography by Russell Hepworth. 

Studebaker served terms on the boards of the Idaho Writers' Connection, the Idaho Commission on the Arts and the Idaho Humanities Council. In 2005, he received the state's Outstanding Achievement in the Humanities award. He died at age 61 in a kayaking accident on the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River. His final book of poetry, About a Place Called Home, is unpublished.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely poem. I hear that voice all too rarely.