The POTW: Verse Til It Hurts


POTW #875
(Week of 25 January, 2015)

This started in the shower, as so many poems do. I was thinking about how my body constantly exchanges material with my environment, even when I'm just standing there doing nothing. And the exact moment when that material becomes some of me rather than some of something else, or vice versa, is not necessarily easy to pin down. So, out came another one of my identity poems. I've probably said something similar before, but identity is kind of a delusionally egotistical claim when we're basically loose, malleable concentrations of matter inside of a larger soup composed of more of the same matter. Like sand dunes in a desert. Oh, hey! I wasn't sure what to call this one, but now I think I know:

Sand Dune

Little bits of carbon leave my body on my breath
Exhalation is divorce, a tiny partial death
Exfoliation too, I lose the surface of myself
Pieces of my body gone, but whole in perfect health

Soon to be a part of me, the water in my drinking glass
How soon is soon, how me is me, are questions that I'm moved to ask
Are we a single being when the water's sitting in my mouth?
What about a minute later, when it's traveled further south?

I'm mostly water, but I drink and sweat and so it comes and goes
The contents of my bladder, still myself or not, who knows?
Me and what I've eaten lately: many things, or only one?
It's hard to say exactly when our group identity's begun

I have a sort of understanding what I mean when I say "me"
But what about what's in my lungs as I absorb the things I breathe?
The CO2 that's in my blood, just visiting, so does it count?
Perhaps I should deduct some kind of base statistical amount

Ownership is fleeting, always claiming and divesting
The biologic stock exchange, excreting and digesting
At any given moment many cells have pending bargains
And so my current holdings have these somewhat blurry margins

Identity is tricky and it's fluid and it's hazy
To try to draw a solid line could slowly drive you crazy
As for why I care, it's put my diet into disarray
Without some firm criteria, I don't know what I weigh

Copyright © 2015 by Dave Grossman

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