Sometimes Picasso nails it (like he does in this drawing)

I Sing the Body Reclining

I sing the body reclining
I sing the throwing back of self
I sing the cushioned head
The fallen arm
The lolling breast
I sing the body reclining
As an indolent continent

I sing the body reclining
I sing the easy breathing ribs
I sing the horizontal neck
I sing the slow-moving blood
Sluggish as a river
In its lower course

I sing the weighing thighs
The idle toes
The liming knees
I sing the body reclining
As a wayward tree

I sing the restful nerve

Those who scrub and scrub
corrupt the body

Those who dust and dust
also corrupt the body

And are caught in the asylum
Of their own making
Therefore I sing the body reclining

–Grace Nichols

This is a poem I can feel all the way in. It goes deep inside my body’s knowing, where I can feel how it is to let the “soft animal of your body love what it loves” (thank you to Mary Oliver for that oft-quoted but ever immortal line.)


Grace Nichols grew up in a small country village on the Guyanese coast and has been living in the UK since 1977. Her first poetry collection, i is a long-memoried woman, was published in 1983 and won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize.

Thanks to 3 Quarks Daily, one of my favorite blogs, for introducing me to this lush, lanquid poem.