When I touch your skin and goosebumps lift,
it’s your mind that surfaces there.
When your iris tightens mechanically
around your pupil, that aperture
becomes for me the blacked-out
cockpit of your mind.
It’s your mind
that touches your tongue to mine,
your mind that, when you’re driving,
lowers your hand to my thigh
like a pilot light inside your sleep,
your mind that beats your heart—
slower, then faster—infusion pump
in the chest, flooding your mind.
But your heart is not your mind.
The curve of your hip; the soft
skin of your wrist is not your mind.
The tumor growing in your brain
is just your brain, I say.
of your face; the sound of your voice,
which I love so much, is not your mind.
Your mind spills through—fire
I can’t stop watching from the far
side of this darkening valley.
Copyright © 2016 by Wayne Miller. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 16, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“‘Mind-Body Problem’ is a love poem that considers how philosophical abstractions become acute and discernibly present in the face of illness and loss.”
Wayne Miller is the author of Post- (Milkweed Editions, 2016) andThe City, Our City (Milkweed Editions, 2011).
Date Published: 2016-05-16
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/mind-body-problem