MAN ON EXTREMELY SMALL ISLAND
after a Mordillo cartoon
I think I must be sitting on the kneecap
of a gigantic woman: stretched out
on the sea-floor, one long leg folded in,
triangulating heavenward, her knee
just breaches the surface enough to make
my seat. How she came to be here, how
I happened to wash up on her kneecap
shore, why she never puts her leg down--
these are questions I do not pursue.
Instead, I try to picture the woman's face:
eyes lidded, mouth upturned in sleepy
pleasure, she can just bear the tickling
my body gives her; naturally, I'm afraid
that if I move too much a giant hand
will come whalebursting out of the water
to thwop me like a golfball into the sea.
So, still as possible. Once, I did an experiment:
I got down on my belly--gingerly--
seal-wagged my upper body down
the eastern slope of the knee, and sent
my hands snorkeling--a distinct shudder.
Was that her thigh? That shudder
nearly broke my ribs, so I've never tried
the opposite slope for shin. Sometimes,
as is my way, I begin to feel ungrateful:
why couldn't it have been a breast
instead of a knee? I could lie down,
feel cared for, sleep. I could relax . . .
The irony, of course, is that, from the sky,
the knee probably looks like a breast,
with me as nipple, so, when you notify
the Coast Guard about my situation,
be sure to warn them of the resemblance.
Not that I expect anyone to find me.
By the time you get this message--if
you get it--I'll have been swallowed up
by a storm; the fact that I haven't been
already I would call a “miracle,” but
when you throw yourself off a ship, lose
consciousness, and come to on a kneecap,
can anything else go by that name?
Miracle. And all those years I asked
for a smaller nose. I said to God, Just
give me a chance. This isn't a nose--
it's a melon. Just make it a little smaller,
something a woman can convince herself
to live with if I am a good enough man . . .
When I came to that first strange morning
I thought I'd washed up on a giant nose.
I said to God, Very funny, very very funny.
Hilarious. I'm dying here. You kill me.
Then I put my nose into my hands and wept.
But now I think kneecap--I won't give God
that satisfaction. And my sea-goddess,
she has no nose. Just a space where mine
I'm running out of shirt.
You might be wondering where I got
this bottle--someone must have thrown it off
the ship. There was another message inside.
I'm alone, it said. Find me, find me.
I threw it in the water.
I used to hate sitting in my apartment,
night after night, hearing murmurings
in the apartments around me; now
I stare at the endless, sunshot blue
and try to imagine walls.