The Physics Of Chinese - Wrestling

When the gulf widens between them
these two young men reach out across it, hand to hand:
the skin of the pulse protests,

the pulse draws back its little egg-head to protest
as if it wants none of this slap
of male upon male. The force of the collision puts

such a strain on each wrist it turns into something else:
a question mark in convulsion,
say, unravelling backwards, a sparrow's stopwatch

ticking in its ribs, an apprentice reaching back over his head
rather than shift the platform—
it is a cradle of ligaments, hoist, the scaffolding that

secures the longing to build, stage by stage.
They bid to the master
builders, and all I know is when another back-of-a-hand

strains towards the table-top or ceiling these two young men
are forming between them
a flying buttress, stone for stone, each one of which

presses against the next to hold the whole building up.
Or else they are forcing
skyward, stone by stone, the walls around them to justify

so wide a roof. Or else, now they are so nearly horizontal,
the building in an act
of upward and equal downward pressure,

of verticals meeting on a level plane, as if impartial,
holds its upright perspective, just.
Before falling down all over again.

by Tim Liardet

Other poems of LIARDET (18)

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