Excerpt from "The Cleaving"

Brothers and sisters by blood and design,
who sit in separate bodies of varied shapes,

What a beginning! We are forced to remember ourselves: that we are souls living within the blood and flesh of bodies, peering out into the world. It sets up the theme of the soul delicately and perfectly. -Patricia Schlutt, age 17

we constitute a many-membered
body of love.
In a world of shapes
of my desires, each one here
is a shape of one of my desires, and each

"In a world of shapes/ of my desires." This suggests that, ultimately, one desire possesses us, and that this one desire takes on varying forms. That desire is the seed and root, but those different shapes are the branches and leaves. Ask yourself, what is that primary desire? Do we share it? Is this what connects us? -Zachary Tomaszewski, age 22

is known to me and dear by virtue
of each one's unique corruption
of those texts, the face, the body:
that jut jaw
to gnash tendon;

"That jut jaw to gnash tendon" or "those thick lips to suck the meat of animals" give me a picture of a strong, wild, primitive human, while "to recite 300 poems of the T'ang" shows intelligence and culture, and how we all make different use of our bodies. -Laura Courch, age 20

that wide nose to meet the blows
a face like that invites;
those long eyes closing on the seen;
those thick lips
to suck the meat of animals
or recite 300 poems of the T'ang;
these teeth to bite my monosyllables;
these cheekbones to make
those syllables sing the soul.
Puffed or sunken
according to the life,
dark or light according
to the birth, straight
or humped, whole, manqué, quasi, each pleases, verging
on utter grotesquery.
All are beautiful by variety.

It is interesting how the poem contrasts nature to what a person experiences in their life; according to birth someone might be dark, light, straight, humped, etc, while they could appear "puffed or sunken according to the life." This is a really effective way to say that a person's experiences can break them down or make them flourish and these differences, as well as natural characteristics they are born with, are beautiful because they are the reason everyone is not the same. -Laura

The soul too
is a debasement
of a text, but, thus, it
acquires salience, although a
human salience, but
inimitable, and, hence, memorable.
God is the text.
The soul is a corruption

Interesting here how he describes the uniqueness of different people’s appearance as a corruption of the “base text” of the human body. It’s as if we all came from a perfect mold but our humanity prevents us from remaining perfect. -Kyle Austin, age 23

and a mnemonic.

Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.