The Only Drum


Should I be familiar with blasons?  Perhaps I missed that day of English Major class.  Well-regardless, I’m fascinated.  In The True Secret of Writing, Natalie Goldberg describes them as an entire 16th century poetry genre.  One that was used to praise women via anatomical analogy.  She cites several examples, including a famous one by Shakespeare that could easily be coined the anti-blazon.  It mocks all of the cliches we’ve come to associate with beauty.  It made smile.  

So I’ve been toying with these things.  Writing blasons about my husband and my son.  I’ve attempted it “Goldberg” style–that is, without overthinking the metaphors and just rolling with the images that float into my brain.  My own strange tributes have resulted.  

Blason One — Day Husband

His Legs are all of him. Hips for ears.

His fingers knobby with knuckles like bulbs, for planting.

His eyes, muddy puddles. No fun until you jump in them.

The splashing makes them twinkle in a subtle North Star way.

His feet, long straws. Perfect, thin, and light. Tattooed with

neon racing stripes. They carry him through miles of

trials. His heart, the only one I’d like in my morning

coffee cup. Steady — pumping the day’s rhythm. But

always ready for a stir.

Blason Two — Night Husband

Your giraffe limbs — awkward shapes and sharp edges

make for a horrid bedfellow. Spooning with you is a fork

to my lumbar. Yet — as you tangle and gangle — leaving no

nook for my more padded frame — our insides pair

quite nicely. Organs in sync. Your mind rests in mine. The curve

of a sea turtle’s belly against the warm sand. You heart, a metronome.

Bringing my more erratic beats to pace. Our breath, blending then

swirling upward like smoke in a tube. We fit in the important ways

my ill-proportioned love. So draw the curtains of your eyes as sleep

seeps in. Do it peacefully. Do it, knowing that all will be well if you

keep to your side of the bed.

Blason Three — Son

Your lips are pillows for my cheeks. Soft bows,

curved perfectly. Your rectangle frame lengthening

faster than the measuring tape in my hands. Thinning out.

That baby face finding it’s angles, giving hints of the man

underneath. That mind, a grasshopper — uncageable. Your legs

— pillars of jello. You stumble over yourself

with mother’s net to fall in. Your voice is butter on warm

cinnamon bread and your hands are clams, muddied from digging.

Your china skin and starfish grip hold parts of me once

unknown. Your “mommy” is silk tickling my ear. And your

heart is the only drum I hope to hear

when my body is soil. When I’m earth

for you to dance on.

Originally published  in Poets Unlimited on 


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