The poems in “Blue Hanuman” have a lyric intensity and soul-clarity that move beyond Larkin’s previous books. The poet’s voice becomes the thing it speaks about, connecting the body to art and to the whole process of nature– the world’s body seen from the inside.
In her third painting of Judith, a velvet knot
of arms, head, fists. He’s
draped in carmine folds. Her gown is gold.
She’s forced his sword into his dense neck.
Under him, the deep crease between mattresses:
a blood-soaked vagina.
She broke the first glass and kept…
She broke the first glass and kept
launching Some flew ten feet
Each explosion wanted the next
and when she’d nothing left to throw
kitchen covered in shards floor
shining hands stinging shard
sticking out of one cheek she stood
in what she’d made and was satisfied
I fell from sealmother’s
liquid womb onto fast-ice
and she suckled me with her thick
milk and kept me, fifty days.
We lived in the wind.
Under the ice in no-light
trills, buzzes, thumps
filled the water and rang in my body.
I scraped breathing holes with my teeth,
held my breath, slowed my blood,
sank deep, breathed out
bubbles to flush the icy fish;
devoured silverfish, squid, octopus,
giant toothfish, bald notothen.
A male bit my neck and gripped me.
A cub curled inside me. I bore
many cubs and let them suck. Left them
when the time came. My teeth
worn to nubs, skua will make
quick food of me when I starve
above the ice. Or if my carcass
drops to the sea floor, red
sea stars, worms, and flesh-eating
amphipods will slowly cover
me and devour my meat.
I’m standing in wind,
seal flesh still warm.
Ice clouds rose in a glass.
A ghost mushroom floated
in clear broth. Eel-streaked
pillows of eggplant like our
flesh. The marina darkened
under its gemstone necklace.
A flash turned a child rising
from the pool, fungus-white.
Many-mouthed quiet. Malay.
Mandarin. Singlish. Tamil.
I hardly know where I am,
tasting green Cambodian fire,
opening a hinged valve
to its scar. Swallowing silk.