Bodies

Another poem written after I returned from Korea. This poem is an attempt to realize poetically, Tim Morton’s replacement term for ‘nature’, the symbiotic real. Morton’s reasons for abandoning the word nature & the (capital N) baggage with it, is owing to the erroneous perception that nature is somewhere, or some state, we need to get back to. For Morton this has never been an opportunity because we are always already in & of nature. You never have nor will you ever escape the symbiotic real, because nature is symbiosis. DNA requires RNA. The very stuff that is the algorithmic life-start in a symbiotic relationship. Take away RNA, DNA doesn’t get the message. Nothing works alone. Everything is reliant on something else.

What doesn’t have agency? That is why there is no nature. What we do by thinking a nature outside of us, is establish a series of over-theres. An over-there to dump rubbish so we can consume & feel clean; an over-there for this, for that. But doing something in one place has spillage effects. The rubbish you send to the sacrificial landfill site—land sacrificed to be poisoned—grows into a terraforming or annexing & the chemical leachate from it indicates the over-there isn’t as contained as we think, or rather hope.

Methane gas musters & disperses; the land is packed with decades of consumerism, objects that will be discovered in the geological strata for centuries to come. Each object has a history, had a value that in the blink of an eye (in geological time) is reduced to waste. The plastic we throw took millions of years to become what we throw away. But its life doesn’t stop at our valuation & production of it. No. It then decomposes for hundreds of years. If we could ask a piece of plastic what it desires most, it would probably ask to die.

To be ecological thinkers we must collapse this attitude to thinking nature is something to return to, when nature is the tips of your fingers, the breath, the blood, the face, other faces, faeces, other arms, nonhuman limbs, nonhumans full stop, it is concrete & electrical cabling, steel, plastic (liquid dinosaurs & plant & tree & animal), language, code, pencils, pens, sex toys, newspapers. In short, nature is there when you wake in your home, walk to the shops, walk to a forest (curated by man largely). If you look at a farm & think nature…think again. That agricultural land is no more Nature (I capitalize it to show nature in the traditional definition we commonly assume) than your high street, a warehouse or an anthill. When everything is enmeshed symbiotically an entirely radical thing happens: we think ecologically. Ecology is about relationships shared in a space: man & pigeon, pigeon & lichen, lichen & rain, rain & stone, stone & rubbish, rubbish & pigeon: all are bodies. Now, poem-body.

Bodies
 
The body-protean, an exiled casserole
of organisms, without which we have nothing close
to history. A bloating pocket where a blast
of life informs the cell, & cells conform to life.
The body micro-managed by a filigree
of vital matter sliced like rump-burls
off suffering birch, craft into a stiff bowl
to fill with feed, & nurse the stricken tree.
The aspect ratio of the golden hour
kneading a little dryness in the skin of leaves;
whose rations nourish, who commands
with a longevity, keeping the growth’s demand.
 
This uniformity, offerings of belly & bit
marching loose to twangs of string
in an inviting, unseen land of waves.
The nettled summer, ants the bring
that rigs the bone with this enduring love.
Thus the sponge sops up the wet;
wind clusters in the curtains, aching for an eave. 
Dropped in a current, the siphoned spark lobes
the brain, motions the muscled bone with grab.
The sagittal-arête time romped along
until the biped stood outside the cave
& learned to steal in geometry’s hive.  
 
Though we go templed in the nexus
of the lung & heart, we do not go astray, sick
& sorry. The agriculture underneath the flesh
is just as much an alien as it is a me.
I’d like to know the spark, the soma & the bee. 
A world is hemmed in by a gassy peel.
People take notes on how a little bird glues
twigs to twigs with phlegm & beak;
how ants haul foraged matter to a burrow.
Will we ever be big enough to fill our shoes?
The world outside tomorrow’s window
is an imagining we rehearse. 

6 Replies to “Bodies”

    1. I think Morton is a little didactic, but he does it in his idiosyncratic style, which irony of ironies, is actually a disarming tone. His prose is brilliant, pleaching insight to insight. By using ‘symbiotic real’ in place of nature, Morton merely introduces the processual, the object as series of events. Nature is an object, or many objects which are part of the assemblage of nature. Nothing is lost, really, except an erroneous positing of nature over-there, where we need to get back to. This has never been possible. & it will never happen because as I say, we already are in the symbiotic real, urging us to denature nature, swapping it for an all inclusive ecological thinking. Symbiotic real stresses that nothing exists by itself, even a black hole feeds. I like the idea of thinking in terms of one object’s relationships with other objects.

      1. I wasn’t talking about Morton but about the tone of the poem. I get Morton, so I get your explanation. What I’m talking about is that I worry that your poem tries to explain it rather than express it. Does that make better sense?

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