Steve Scafidi

Ode to the Perineum

Maybe the soul is only a small place on the body
–Larry Levis
And maybe not. Maybe the invisible filament that flickers
in the idea of the soul is the soul.
Some hummingbird of the universal mind–
brightly colored, precise and infinitely quick.
And dull. It shouldn’t be, in any case, as intimate
as say, the perineum, that pleasurable
one millionth acre
of nerves that lies between the asshole and the valleying
gradual beginning of our sex. No, the soul can’t be that
close by and so inappropriate
that to speak of it now
is to cross over into the language of the body and of
the hidden crevasses of the body. Well, the hummingbird
now floats over a rose although
such a symbol for the soul
to be honest must include the microscopic blue turds
thudding lightly onto the grass wherever that hummingbird,
for you, will pass. I prefer the taint,
this prairie of pure desire
so secret even the body knows little of its power until quietly
reminded we buck like a horse on some Mississippi street.
This deep true south of ourselves.
Patch of the promised land.
Kingdom of the cartwheel and the lazy falling handstand
in swimming pools. I praise the carnival hairs sprouting
there like trees Dr. Seuss drew
in a forbidden mood
and I praise blue moons, kazoos and white hot rivers
with fiery canoes in that vision of scramble pleasure
makes us live through and I praise
this small place on the body
that might be the soul. Hinge from which our legs swing.
Tingling thing. Like the soft spot on a baby’s head,
this fragile holy span,
must be praised now and then
with all the gentle force that words can stand.

Steve Scafidi
Ode to the Perineum first appeared in The Georgia Review.
Poem, copyright © 2005 by Steve Scafidi
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse