L0038401 2 photographs of bodybuilder and professor Desbonnet Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Bodybuilder Professor Desbonnet, front and back views, demonstrating the importance of physical exercise in training the body. Photograph 1908 La Culture Physique Published: - Printed: 1st December 1908 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

 
Fig Leaves

In our doing and undoing,
in our designs,

the nakedness
we try to hide:

the corpse beneath the sheet
laid out upon a stainless table.

Plainly there, plainly.
But we go on

in our intricate designs.

The clink of glasses,
a swirl of opulence
upon a porcelain plate,

the tasteful tie and jacket,
understated, elegant.

Oh yes.

The anesthetizing doctor
saying, “Well at least
he felt no pain,

or very little.”

And in a minute turning
round,

the hours come and go
to find us old and disillusioned,

still longing for the clink of glasses.
Wanting more.

………….Or if we dare—

oh if we dare
to set aside our wantonness,
to cede the corpse upon the table

and hear, once more,
the voice that sent us scurrying

to hide our nakedness,
might these plumes of dissipation
in surrender

fall away?

 

(With tribute to the poetry of T.S. Eliot)

 
Leland James, nominated for the 2014 Pushcart Poetry Prize, is the author of three books of poetry. He has been published in over fifty journals and magazines worldwide, including  The South Carolina ReviewThe Spoon River Poetry Review New Millennium Writings, and The London Magazine. He has won numerous international poetry competitions. www.lelandjamespoet.com

 

To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website.