A Proprioceptive Manifesto

Learning to re-read
the unconscious information
of joint and tendon
to hold my position in space
briefly balanced
above my torn calf muscle
the splayed bones of the ankle

am I teaching my body to know its place?

In London when I was nine
my voice mumming its new vowels
other-footed    antipodean still
I pulled my socks off on the way to school

Forty years on
here is my bare New Zealand foot
here are my flexible bones

what I am      in the body

my position in space
in Scotland
the week before my fiftieth birthday

What I didn’t tell you
was what happened
before the overstretch
on the blue-swept heathery slope
what happened
before I mistook my step
put my foot wrong      (land
slips    the torn
hillside’s gouts of flying grass)

thinking over and over      the nature
of poetry      the bare speech
of the body

What is this thing we do in words?

the breath    balanced
the feet walking
the body of the poem

the balance organ of the inner ear

in no other way
but this

the declaration of ourselves

from The Body in Space, Shearsman, 2014