Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Hymn to the Neck

Tamed by starched collars or looped by the noose,
all hail the stem that holds up the frail cranial buttercup.
The neck throbs with dread of the guillotine's kiss, while
the silly, bracelet-craving wrists chafe in their handcuffs.
Your one and only neck, home to glottis, tonsils,
and many other highly specialized pieces of meat, 
is covered with stubble. Three mornings ago, undeserving
sinner though she is, yours truly got to watch you shave
in the bath. Soap matted your chest hair. A clouded 
hand mirror reflected a piece of your cheek. Vapor
rose all around like spirit-infested mist in some fabled
rainforest. The throat is the road. Speech is its pilgrim. 
Something pulses visibly in your neck as the words
hand me a towel flower from your mouth.

Credit


From Ghost Girl by Amy Gerstler, published by Penguin. Copyright © 2004 by Amy Gerstler. Reprinted by permission of Penguin. All rights reserved.

Author


Amy Gerstler

Amy Gerstler is the author of several collections, including Bitter Angel (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1997), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Date Published: 2004-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/hymn-neck