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J U N E   1 9 9 7

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by David Rothman

Hear David Rothman read this poem (in RealAudio):

RA 28.8, RA 14.4

(For help, see a note about the audio.)

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Not my leg
Not my leg,
My lean, strong leg.
Choose any other part,
But please don't start
With my lovely leg.
I'd look bad with a peg.

Not my hand,
My articulate hand.
Please don't let it
Get torn or shredded.
Writing this book
Would be hard with a hook --
You must understand
I need my hand.

Not my eyes,
Dear God, not my eyes.
Don't poke them out
So I grope about
Like Homer, Milton, Joyce.
If you have to be blind
To have such a voice,
I find
I want my eyes.

Not the urethra, not the anus,
The avenues that meekly drain us.
At least if they block, or get infected,
Please let it be quickly detected,
So a minimum of me gets cut.
Leave them alone,
My necessary thrones
Of pleasure and smut.

Not my body, my only body.
I know that the construction's shoddy,
Not built to last --
Someday it will lie in the past --
Still, I cannot restrain myself
From praying for my own good health,
Which some denying part of me
Believes should last eternally,
Although that only could hold true
For something out of nature's view,
And not my body, not my body.

David J. Rothman is the author of Dominion of Shadows (1996).

Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; June 1997; Not My Leg; Volume 279, No. 6; page 98.

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