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Edward Ficklin

This body will be a corpse

publishedabout 1 month ago
2 min read

Darling, it's summer! That time of year when every body thinks about their body--too this, too that, not enough whatever, lift, tuck, suck, etc., etc. I am certainly prey to this annual angst. But this year, I happened to be reading a fascinating book that added a very new twist to this recurring obsession.

Stiff
By Mary Roach

Darling, our fabulous bodies, yours and mine, will be corpses someday. At first blush, this reminder is a downer and we should change the subject like polite people do. But bear with me for a sec. I found this book a pleasure to read. It's fascinating, humorous, a bit dark, and, most importantly, filled with an irreverent joy that comes from learning to let go, to face the inevitable with grace and curiosity, to not take myself so seriously.

Death is one of the greatest fears we face in life. So how better to face it than head on? Like a crash test dummy! Or, better, like a crash test cadaver! Totally a thing and just what it sounds like. Wire up a corpse with sensors, put it in the car and wham! I am totally donating my body to science and I hope they find the most batshit things imaginable to do with my expired meatsack, like this intrepid munitions researcher dedicated to making landmine removal safer:

He sounded downright keen on the prospect. "I'm always saying, 'After I die, just put me out there and blow me up.'"

Alright, darling, thank you for bearing with me. Enough corpse talk, let's talk about gold, instead. Not the bling, greedy, money-grubbing kind. I'm talking about spiritual gold, juicy loving gold, fiery sunlight on your bare skin gold.

Gold
By Rumi, Haleh Liza Gafori, translator

This Gold is a new translations of the glorious work of the 13th century Sufi poet Rumi by Haleh Liza Gafori. I've loved the poetry of Rumi (via translation) for many, many years. But reading this book is like falling in love for the first time. Blown away doesn't even begin to describe the rapture these little gems produce.

Feeling guilt for feeling pleasure--
that's your sin. That's your chain.
Shatter it, tear it off,
then invite the puritans over.
Today is an invitation to ecstasy.
Let them know.

Bonus points for a short (!!) and beautiful introduction that gives just the right amount of historical background and lets us in on the queer joy these poems embody (something carefully ignored by other translators).

Darling, are you wondering what the thread joining these two disparate selections might be? Quite simply: letting go. And letting go is deeply intertwined with the contemplation of interdependence we discussed last time. Both these books are very potent reminders that in the end, it doesn't really matter. So, why not just go for it? (btw, letting go and giving up are very different.)

But don’t take my word for it. I’ll let Molana (means “beloved”) and Gafori have the last laugh.

Full of yourself—
A friend’s touch is sharp as a thorn.
A buzzing fly drives you mad.

Forget yourself
and what friend can hurt you?
You mingle with wild elephants
And enjoy the ride.

Caged in self,
You drown in anguish.
Storm clouds swallow the sun
Your lover flees the scene.

Outside yourself,
The night is moonlit,
Lovers drink Love’s wine.
It flows through you.

Self-conscious
You’re dry as autumn leaves.
You bite like frost.

Melt yourself,
And winter’s frozen meadows
Will become spring’s fragrant fields.

Until next time, flame on! 🔥


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