In his “A Sense of Measure,” Robert Creeley discusses what one’s ‘given to write’: ‘No merely intellectual program can find reality . . . what is given to me to write [is] apart from what I might intend’ (emphasis Creeley’s). Subject is a series of tags we give after Thing’s written, then. Funny—I never find myself floating in any of Creeley’s poetry, none at all; I’m thinking his mind’s medium may have more salt to buoy than I like. But reading his essay has helped me parse some of my feeling for Caleshu’s “The State,” insofar as its arc seems impossible to ‘plan to write.’ It’s out in New Delta Review.
I read the poem and liked its distance. I wanted a poem wondering about the body-as-object more than I knew: ‘My desire to change / my body so that I might locate / it is a minor one comparable to // What a body is[.]’ Wondering‘s right—the enjambment that swings focus away from ‘it’ to ‘locate’ is proof of either intent to turn or some shyness to look. And aren’t the possibilities tender, too: a body might be ‘a burnished / shell,’ ‘a small / piece of wall you’ve come to love.’ Caleshu’s speaker manages to step away from commands made on the body by society and socialized self—or at least believably dream it—leaving just a long glance behind (and a hand to write). I cannot help thinking of Mokoto in Ghost in the Shell, tearing forearms on the tank or swimming maybe to sink. What she shares with “The State” is—imago enough to immobilize the current vehicle. I can’t tell whether that’s happy or sad.
To the vehicle is said:
Dysphoria is a feeling with
a fee attached to it
a feeling trained not to
look down the front of its
body with no shirt on
I become a bit sadder here, at least. The title of the poem throbs a bit more; I see wan gesture in the stanza-heading caps. Remember that for Mokoto—dismembered, displaced—the last mettle she has on the tank is to remain Herself, even if that maintenance is in ghost alone. And it’s because of Caleshu’s poem I’m trying to remember what it was like to know my body before I knew rules for it.