In this vivid, mystical poem, Selin Genc dives into the flowing relationships between body, space and spirit, abundance and lack, and asks how life can be lived between the extremes of excess and nothing at all.
Bursting at the seams:
this is the meaning of spirit, excess.
I wear my bareness as clothing where flesh
meats spirit in sheer coalescence, exorbitance.
Spirit is the clothing;
the body, naked, is clothed in spirit overflowing,
seeping out the windows, out the door
of the house of being.
The house is crowded, it is brimming,
it is life in excess. That is being.
My senses long to be drenched in brilliance,
to be soaked in what is worth dying for:
the blinding shimmer of a blue ribbon,
the horizon where cobalt touches azure,
Pry open these lungs with the crushed green scent
of wild grass trampled by wilder horses.
Pepper-hot sun and a salty breeze
nibble life-flushed cheeks.
My body is delivered to me through the world,
out amongst the lilies in the fields and birds in the sky
(where they soar, they soar),
here I settle in my skin and lean on my bones.
The mind thinks enough but only the body really knows.
What if this body pulsed without organs
and instead assembled into fluid,
moulded like clay?
Pulled towards infinite directions,
projecting out of the soul’s centre by the strange compass
of invented desires and scorching passions?
Reconfiguring parts: flesh budding, pumping, convulsing.
First protruding and erect,
then shy like a snail.
Molluscous, tentacular, muscular.
A new whole, a new hope.
Fleshing out a will, an excitement, an attraction.
Under the powers of hidden magnets,
the poles of this globular body swirl.
Meat folds on itself, it curls, unfurls
with a fresh will to be born.
A new organ a day
to attend in infinite ways
to endless domestic details
before dissolving again, washing away
into the ripples of the flesh. The body: a wave.
surge onto the beach, the same sway
This rhythmic persistence holds me in awe
of the internal forces that pulse through my veins.
I am drenched, entrenched by the givenness of this moment,
of myself upon myself,
as wave collapses on wave collapses on wave.
A wave is a wave is a wave.
Away from the shore, the sea lies deep, still, inexplicable.
And so lies this human self.
The sea is magnetic. My humanity is mesmerised before it,
We are two poles, the sea and I, between us currents flow.
Who will surrender to whose force?
It is from myself that I flee,
into that vastness
where I am sodden in my own infinite mystery.
Intense pleasure, warns the ancient hedonist, is equivalent to intense pain. I hold this idea, a flat rock, and test whether it skims on the surface of my intuition. It sinks. Why should their quantitative equivalence equate their qualitative experience? The hedonist also warns that pleasure is fleeting, so abstain if possible to forestall future craving. These are precautionary measures to neutralise a sense of self that is already despairing about minutes drowning.
‘The thirteen organs of our living,’ the Tao Te Ching goes, ‘are the thirteen organs of our dying.’ She felt big— in titanic proportions. Her organs were alert and voracious as they extended onto sense impressions. As if there is an external world: fugitive, always on the point of sliding away. Stimulation, she hoped, would keep her afloat, above the treacherous currents that could swallow into thalassic depths. The bottom: a bedrock of internal appearances. Instead, her waving soul collided violently with the rocky shores of existence. And upon impact, Venus-like, her body foamed. She dissolved into an Aphrodisiac world of pure surface. She slipped away.
Rejoice! Let fertile pollens fill your nostrils, and broad, vivid colours cascade into the pools of your eyes as in a waterfall. Bite into volcanic cayenne, explosions on your tongue. Let the lover index life onto your skin as he traces goosebumps on your navel with his thumb. The Aegean sand, the Aegean sun. Is this too much life? Is any less than excess worth living at all? She held on so tightly that the world hardened around her, formed a shell that no beak could crack. The motley of kaleidoscopic colours merged and became too bright, too white, blinding: an overabundance to the point of lack. I have seen her in what was first too much, ‘til she became a nothing. Nothing at all.
In memory of my friend Leyla Cehan
About Selin Genc
Selin Genc is a writer and artist based in Utrecht (NL) and Istanbul (TR). Her written and visual work has been featured on Lucy Writers Platform, the Gallyry, the Debutante, the Rattlecap, Mad’in Europe, Eudaimonia and rApport. Her essay ‘Creative Cartographies’ was featured as a podcast episode on Technecast. Selin’s ongoing academic pursuits are in the fields of art history, philosophy and social anthropology. Alongside working on a book-length project, she is involved in a collaborative writing project with the Ruppin Agency and Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge – ‘What The Water Gave Us’, a hardcopy anthology focusing on the migrant experience.
This poem was submitted for our latest mini-series, Our Body’s Bodies
Everything is written on the body – but what does it mean to write about our bodies in the era of Covid-19? And is it possible to write about bodily experiences in the face of such pervasive and continued violence? Using different modes of writing and art making, Lucy Writers presents a miniseries featuring creatives whose work, ideas and personal experiences explore embodiment, bodily agency, the liberties imposed on, taken with, or found in our bodies. Beginning from a position of multiplicity and intersectionality, our contributors explore their body’s bodies and the languages – visual, linguistic, aural, performance-based and otherwise – that have enabled them to express and reclaim different forms of (dis)embodiment in the last two years. Starting with the body(s), but going outwards to connect with encounters that (dis)connect us from the bodies of others – illness, accessibility, gender, race and class, work, and political and legal precedents and movements – Our Body’s Bodies seeks to shine a light on what we corporally share, as much as what we individually hold true to.
Bringing together work by artistic duo Kathryn Cutler-MacKenzie and Ben Caro, poet Emily Swettenham, writer and poet Elodie Rose Barnes, author Ayo Deforge, writer and researcher Georgia Poplett, writer and poet Rojbîn Arjen Yigit, writer and researcher Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou and many others, as well as interviews with and reviews of work by Elinor Cleghorn, Lucia Osbourne Crowley and Alice Hattrick, Lucy Writers brings together individual stories of what our bodies have endured, carried, suffered, surpassed, craved and even enjoyed, because…these bodies are my body; we are a many bodied being. Touch this one, you move them all, our bodies’ body.
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