The Body’s Strength

The mind may not mind death. It means
at last letting go, the inevitable
capitulation. After all, it’s tired,
very tired. But the body fights
right to the end. Up, it keeps saying,
you must get up. Think how the body combines
the most improbable collection of parts
from toe nail to ear lobe, knee cap
to armpit, all with different
functions and desires like a room packed
with the strangest people possible —
rabbit punchers to perfume sippers,
hot dog maniacs to telepathic Chinese,
yet even the smallest pore keeps saying,
Keep moving. One might imagine the aging
body is like the donkey, while the mind
is like the man with the whip perched
on the overladen cart, but actually their desires
are the opposite with the donkey plodding
dumbly ahead and the man shouting stop.
What keeps it going? What does the body
enjoy? At the end it can hardly hear much,
taste much, see much, smell much and a lot
just hurts, but still the body must delight
in the feel of itself even when it says ouch,
must love the touch of flesh against bones,
like a young girl wearing a silk dress
for the first time. And then it’s stubborn,
one foot plopped down after another—
that’s how those pyramids got built.