Body Horrors


marco polo monster pic


There are truths in our most ancient

Body horrors. The men with faces only

Seeing from their stomachs: they may still exist.

The women who kept a mouth at the deep

Dark back of their heads, hidden in hair,

Untouchable and treacherous. The strange

Grey ladies who knew too much, and cut the twine

Of life out, sharing one clear vision between them;

Great men with one line of sight, in their own heads;

And the younger girls, who sounded harmless enough

And ruined ships. In my time I’ve met them all,

Done deals with devils, shared my bread with hags,

Drank furiously with a faun or two. Their kind

Has danced with us, one way or another, ever since

We invented them: their bodies are our bodies,

Their treacheries ours, their every malice, ours.


If anyone ever tells you that you look out of shape, think about Marco Polo’s nonsense-creatures and consider yourself well and truly in shape. 


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