David Nash’s poem in seven parts for the White Review:
1. Cessation of Breath: Is He Breathing?
He’s not breathing, and he cannot go on like this. He
needs air. Mouth-to-mouth is a fool’s game: you must
not believe that you have enough air for the both of
you. The body should supply itself, but in this it can be
encouraged. Breath begets breath, and life life. One O
says yes to another O and that equals oxygen. One god
nods to the next god, who nods to the next and so on.
Therefore plant plants, as follows:
(i) The chest is just a gathering of shapes as it
is, and it knows full well what it means to be
a shrubbery. There is depth and breadth
enough for soil, and it lends itself naturally
to inhabitance. From there to conurbation.
Drop seeds and sow. It grows in spite of
(ii) The extremities are a framework already in
place: honeysuckles, for example, thrive on
the order inherent in limbs; fingers are the
beginnings of mathematics, and you will
find the sweetpea loops nicely to a ring;
ivies are many and incessant.
(iii) The holes of the head are a blessing. Eye
sockets, in particular, are favourable to
2. Cardiac Arrest: Is There Any Rhythm to Him?
They say: cut the wood yourself and it will warm you
twice. It is the same for the heart – if you beat it, it will
beat. And it is the same with blood – it won’t move
unless you move it. This is the kind of work that must
be done by hand. This is monks and manuscripts. This
is sculpture. This is the work your father did, is where
you came from.
(i) Locate the heart by feeling
(ii) Trace out the gridlocked veins
(iii) Prepare the bell for pealing
(iv) Make fists and take your aim
(v) Pound it till it feels like kissing
(vi) Push the blood between your hands
(vii) Force the heart to miss what’s missing
(viii) Forbid it to neglect its plan
(ix-xii) Of all the laws that you could leave him
Leave him only one:
Hurt could your heart every man
Hurt can his heart none.