No Asylum of One’s Own Making

Sometimes Picasso nails it (like he does in this drawing)

I Sing the Body Reclining

I sing the body reclining
I sing the throwing back of self
I sing the cushioned head
The fallen arm
The lolling breast
I sing the body reclining
As an indolent continent

I sing the body reclining
I sing the easy breathing ribs
I sing the horizontal neck
I sing the slow-moving blood
Sluggish as a river
In its lower course

I sing the weighing thighs
The idle toes
The liming knees
I sing the body reclining
As a wayward tree

I sing the restful nerve

Those who scrub and scrub
corrupt the body

Those who dust and dust
also corrupt the body

And are caught in the asylum
Of their own making
Therefore I sing the body reclining

–Grace Nichols

This is a poem I can feel all the way in. It goes deep inside my body’s knowing, where I can feel how it is to let the “soft animal of your body love what it loves” (thank you to Mary Oliver for that oft-quoted but ever immortal line.)


Grace Nichols grew up in a small country village on the Guyanese coast and has been living in the UK since 1977. Her first poetry collection, i is a long-memoried woman, was published in 1983 and won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize.

Thanks to 3 Quarks Daily, one of my favorite blogs, for introducing me to this lush, lanquid poem.

7 Replies to “No Asylum of One’s Own Making”

  1. I’m trying to get a discussion going about the concept of “pretty” in art. I hope you’ll stop by my blog and tell us what you think. I’d really like to hear your viewpoint on this.

  2. Diana Johnson says:

    Deb, I too read this yesterday on 3 Quarks and felt luxuriously velvety, a draped fabric of want and satisfaction. It speaks to the quiet secret that lies within me. Lovely!

    Yes, Picasso does nail it!

  3. V, I’ll stop by this weekend. Loaded topic.

    D, I love what you said. Luxuriously velvety, I can feel that…

  4. A beautiful drawing. Find the one he did of a couple having oral sex — it was in The New Yorker about a decade ago. It’s very tender and sweet.

  5. E, I’ve seen several Picasso images of oral sex. I should go looking for some of them to post here.

    Regardless of his subject matter, in flagrante delicto or no, his draftsmanship can be breathtaking.

  6. Yes! Put them up! The one I’m thinking of is unusual for him, with the woman receiving pleasure…

  7. E, let’s sleuth it out. With thousands of Picasso drawings in my library alone, this could take weeks!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: