Phenomenology of Pain

~ after Remedios Varo, "Tiforal" (1947)

In this calcified Eden, it's still possible
to recognize shapes from a time when you 

freely named things in the world. Arches
and discs still glow with the milky sheen 

of untroubled intermissions. Among these
silver-grey terminals, a turbaned 

neurosurgeon sits in the mahogany-paneled 
dark of his office, tenting his fingers. 

I am trying to remember what he said 
about the complexity of pathways, about 

the root and the sheath and the vein.
Radiant: a burst of heat or light emitted

from a center. But also, how spokes 
of them might be delivered to a place 

where all beams meet. See how the tongues 
of leaves bend in one direction; how

silhouettes distill the teeth and hair-combs 
of lightning. The underlying mechanism for wings; 

the points of beaks, a crown for starfish. 
Pilgrim, you walk this stretch carrying only

your drinking cup. Do you remember learning  
water from pure hammered copper always tastes

colder in the mouth? A body registers the force
of any shock, well beyond the first encounter.  


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