Cells, Cells, Cells

Linda Hogan. Three lines from somewhere in mid-poem. "We Will Feed You" collected in Rounding the Human Corners.

as we journey,

myself a cell of someone's body,

seeing it through their eyes,

It is, I believe, the influence of the title of this poem that reminds me of Wittig's The Lesbian Body. The feeding coming from one's very being itself. But when I return to this most visceral of texts, I am at a loss. We are far from Hogan's universe and yet the singing and the bringing into being are themes that also run through Wittig's world where as Margaret Crosland in the introduction to the English version writes "language is the clue to speech, life and the body itself." And language nourishes even as it (like the spare lines of Linda Hogan's poetry) subtracts. Take this lovely instance rendered from the French into English by David Le Vay


The first women to awaken have announced the pure and simple disappearance of the vowels. [...] Your lip your tongue modulate the new language in guttural sounds, the uttered consonants jostled one against the other produce gruntings gratings scrapings of the vocal cords, your voice untried in this pronunciation speeds up or slows down and yet you cannot stop talking. The novel effect of the movement of your cheeks and mouth the difficulty the sounds have in making their way out of your mouth are so comical that I choke with laughter, I fall over backwards, m/y tears stream, I regard you still and silent, I am increasingly overcome by laughter, suddenly you too are affected, you burst out, your cheeks colour, you fall over backwards

All is not so easily hilarious between the I and the you, as can attest a thorough reading of The Lesbian Body

I leave you alone in the room where you have spoken to m/e as to a stranger where you have not recognized m/e despite the glare of the lanterns. At m/y order the women prepare m/y severed limbs m/y arms m/y thights m/y legs whose flesh is meticulously removed and boiled for a long time, they offer it to you surrounded by different sauces on glittering plates each plate bearing a different name to please you.

There is nothing guileless about feeding. I have perhaps tainted Hogan's poem by this recollection. Perhaps, not. The poem "We Will Feed You" ends with these lines:

the man saying,

We will feed you.

We will care for you.

You may step upon our land.

At what cost are we fed? Do we feed?

And so for day 685