against the body against the name

against the body against the name
by Hallie Chametzky

I.

It chisels at the joint filling,
being called repeatedly by the wrong name.
The feeling of body crashing title
wears away at the cartilage.
It’s no wonder the flesh here absorbs itself
keep folding the paper in half, denser and smaller
until no more halves can be found.
How does this body belong to me?
In the way of a thought? A meal? A name?
In the way of holding someone else’s burning cigarette?
I am being made of something outside myself,
we are made of something edible
and impermanent.

II.

When was the last time you learned a new name?
Do you remember?
Think back to it, say the name, put it in a larger room,
now say it again.
Do you remember how your mouth learned this trick?
Does your tongue feel the same as it did before?
Recall the face of the name.
Can you remember the way the bones bulged against the skin?
Which parts were soft? Which were hard?
Think about what you are missing,
fill them in with the letters of the name.
Do you remember the length of the sleeves?
Do you remember all of the colors?
This thing you’ve newly learned
has had weight for longer
since before you noticed.
Think of the places it may have moved the earth.

III.

I wonder
as I undress
if he is surprised at how much there is.
Some of them want to own this
thing which is ancient and timeless and vast.
I wonder how he thinks he will hold it
when it is made of fruit trees and
waves and the outermost edge of the universe.
I am growing in ways
we can not watch or grip
There is a knowing, a seen, in this body.

IV.

When was the last time you heard your own name spoken aloud?
Did it come out the way you thought it would?
Did it fall or fly?
Did you catch it in the way of a tossed ball
or a disease?
Think of how your feet shifted on the earth
to accommodate your name’s weight.
Now put your name down and pull it open,
look into the holes in your name,
fill them with the ashes of your self,
weigh the ashes against the body against the name,
take the one which weighs most
and throw it.
Does it fly the way you thought it would?
Write down the sound your name makes when it touches the earth again.

V.

Think back to the first time you held your name in your hands
the way you coveted the name and then
the way you paraded it.
Do you remember how much your small body felt
when you finally knew what it was called?
Take back this feeling
this selfish gluttonous pride
rub it into your skin until you feel it in the flesh
keep going into the bones.
Remind yourself that this body is made of words
this name is made of meat
that the weight of it all keeps you tied to the earth.
The name cannot be folded and
the body cannot be burned.
You are not made of ashes
You are heavy with identity
a load you and the earth will share
together holding firmly and gently
to the weight of it.

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