Catch a Body, Ilse Bendorf

I know, I know. Two weeks of poetry collections, and now, a poem. Am I trying to kill you?! (For the record, “are you trying to kill us?” was the most common phrase I remember hearing after being assigned poetry in school. Turns out, some things never change. I can actually feel the collective “are you trying to kill us” vibe expanding across the universe as you read this.) But no. I am not trying to kill you.

What I am trying to do is get ready to throw a bachelorette party for my amazing sister-in-law (my husband’s little sister) in a rental house in Colorado while juggling last-minute prep for her wedding in two days and trying to get in a workout to make sure I’m as ready as I can be for the race we’re all running at altitude three days after that. (For the record, next week I’m going to be talking about running, regardless of how the race goes, so you can at least look forward to a change from this more cerebral phase to what is essentially a physical manifestation of the idea of summer.)

Basically, I’m busy with the best kind of work – the kind that nets me a new brother by the end of the weekend and is full of family and exciting new possibilities – but that leaves very little free time this week for reading. And the books I have waiting for me look so good…soon, little books, soon.

For now though, in anticipation of a beautiful day, here’s one of the poems I’ve been reading this year as I’ve been thinking about E and O’s new life together. Marriage is really the great hodgepodge – it’s full and intimate and hard and wonderful. It leaves a lot unsaid, and it requires being more honest and loving than we ever imagine we can be when we’re young. It’s also not for everyone, but for those who want that commitment, I tell you from the other side, it is a great adventure.


Catch a Body

Salinger, I’m sorry, but “Don’t ever tell
anybody anything” is a string of words
I would like to wrap up in canvas and sink
to the bottom of the Hudson, or extract
by laser from the ribcage of all of us
who ever believed it, who felt afraid
to miss someone, to be the last one
standing. “Tell everyone everything” is
not exactly right, but I do believe that if
your mother looks radiant in violet
you should tell her, or when a juvenile
sparrow thrashes its wings in dustpiles
and reminds you of a lover’s eyelashes,
you should say so. We are islands all of us,
but we are also boats, our secrets flares,
pyrotechnic devices by which we signal
there’s someone in here we’re still alive!
So maybe it’s, “don’t be afraid.” We can
rewrite Icarus, flame-resistant feathers,
wax that won’t melt, I mean it, I’ll draw up
a prototype right now, that burning ball
of orange won’t stop us, it’ll be everything
we dream the morning after, even if we fall
into the sea—we are boats, remember?
We are pirates. We move in nautical miles.
Each other’s anchors, each other’s buoys,
the rocket’s red, already the world entire.


For more about Ilse Bendorff, go here.

2 thoughts on “Catch a Body, Ilse Bendorf

  1. good point on islands. We try to be independent but we need the security of knowing the seas and where there is safe harbor and where are reefs that will ground our hull to pieces.

  2. ‘if your mother looks radiant in violet you should tell her..’ ahhh I love this. It’s a bird’s-eye look at love from different angles. If that makes sense.

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