ESSAY

Week 2

"Soul"

by Mark Belletini

 

Not that transparent self tucked under my skin

one day to be set free by my death that it might fly.

Not the Oversoul of Emerson, his New England Atman,

unless you can oil it up first, so that it slips out of your hand

as soon as you try to cut and paste it to a dictionary page

in the same part of the library as theology,

but far from where they gather the poems.

When Bill T. Jones or Alvin Ailey leap on the dance stage,

you might catch a glimpse of it out of the corner

of the corner of your eye, but you will never be sure.

You’ll note that your breathing changed pace,

and that your eyes are wet, but those are clues, not soul.

It’s not a thing to be carried, but sometimes

you might feel that you are being carried

high above the snapping dragons at your feet.

You can’t say it occupies space, but without

the space between you and me, space to be crossed,

best not to talk about it.

Steady love, and tested friendship are the chalices

that appear to hold it like fine wine,

but if you drink it, it’s that rare vintage

that is never drunk to the dregs.

What is between you and me might be called soul,

but when we are gone, and different faces anchor

the between-ness, it will still be there when were not.

When music bears it along into your bones,

you will feel that you can rush up and embrace it,

but soon you’ll smile remembering it is not an it.

More of a becoming, more like fire

that can both illumine and scorch, dance and consume.

The last line of a Szymborska poem usually

uncovers the soul which was right there all along.

Soul is the spirit of it all, not the all.

Life, not desire.

Passion, not frenzy or desperation.

Not juice in the limbic system,

but the relationship between that and, say, Alpha Centauri,

and between Alpha Centauri and thatness.

Or between your eye and a homeless woman

bobbing against a wall in the snow,

or between your skin and the skin of someone

shot dead because of the color of theirs.

You know, soul.

Here it is, right now.

Here it is, right now.