for Susan Weston
Here are the surfaces of things:
I take this shape in my hands.
Turn it over. It is a brown seed: huge,
its hide an elephant’s hide,
grey-brown where the elephant has rolled in mud,
bruised grey-purple where skin
was hammered in rock falls.
It is a brain
quartered by slick indented
bands of grey stuff.
I hold it in the palm of my hand:
a small human brain.
Easier this way:
the touch of something impersonal
that passes from hand to hand,
a rub of flesh against gray seed.
Gray hairy shapes
frozen in Siberian ice,
Or a profile of the brain,
the skull sectioned,
its thin layer of skin
pulled back into flaps.
Now an overlap of oils,
not fingerprints exactly,
but a kind of knowledge
dries on the hard skin of the thing.
Here is the passage I will not write:
It is unrelated to this seed or its images.
It is an intrusion of feeling
closed off from the page.
I contain it, like skin over a strange shape.
On the back of the seed is a place of attachment,
not quite a navel, more of an eye:
It is the pupil of a sculptured eye
drilled through thick elephant hide, thin skull,
directly into the embryo brain.
If it were not for the shadow of my head over the drilled
I could see the foetal mind,
its voluptuous curves, its dreaming
Then I pass the seed on,
still damp from the sweaty touch of my hand.
I study the palm of my hand,
as I try for the weight of its absence.