“She Reads Aloud Ode To The Naked Body” by Jeron Jennings

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Jeron Jennings earned an honorable mention for his poem, “She Reads Aloud Ode To The Naked Body.” Jennings is a Junior who studies English Teaching. He hails from Saint Regis, Montana.

She Reads Aloud Ode To The Naked Body

Chaste eyes are the only eyes with which
you see me. You read aloud to the open room,
to the symposium, your filthiest translations
of Neruda but it is only I
who hears you. Our benevolent cronies
chuckle at the indication of bodies,
breasts, and flesh. Spill and stain
the knotted carpet with red wine.
May I be the you of this recital? Omit
the anatomical disagreements. These boundaries
are as passing as the words we speak,
the vernaculars we pull them in
and out of. Terms that signify nothing, like my name
which you can never remember. In time,
when they extract our signs
like vestiges from a dead language
they won’t know anything but the way
your voice shillyshallied
on the penultimate line. They’ll know
that we toasted but not what we toasted to.
It was forgetting, after all. And I don’t recollect
what your friend’s father said at his deathbed
or how your hair began thinning out.
They’ll know not that we sang:
You forget what you meant
when you read what you said,
but they’ll know that we sang.
And this flesh, this object
of our youthful lust will wither,
rot, and repulse. Sentience dwindles
into the lithosphere and all that is left
are our bones, skulls
hardly distinguishable, filled
with soil. We were made from Earth
and dirt, ashes to ashes and other accidents.
They only have to mean if we let them.
Like how all the fires lit beneath my feet
beneath my flesh, have burned white hot
and been named Gabrielle. I beg,
as I have always begged, for the last lines,
for the end to be mine. I am the regolith
buried in the scars of celestial bodies,
echoing light to tell you
You are on fire from within.
The moon is smoldering inside your veins
and tonight we are drunk on lunacy
from lunar rays.

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