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The Vanderbilt Review

The Vanderbilt Review

The Vanderbilt Review

I Sing the Body Electric

Winner of the 2023-24 Thanvi Dola Award
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after Walt Whitman


& I sing & I sing & I sing,
sing of this wonderful bodily biome,
these undulating skins of time
& forest-dense organs of industry:


I sing the body kinematic,
sing of the backs that ache & the hands
that clutch & the jaws that open & are opened,
sing of the ACLs that withstand eons
of force before they tear, sing of all my
unconscious motions. I sing of my fingers
that grip the crooked shovel of remembrance
as they scoop this glorious world
into me—& though memory is a root distorted
with forgetting, I sing of the heady smell of soft mud,
sing of the gentle pleasure of movement.
I sing of my body that will never cease
accelerating, yet will always stop to feel the infinite souls,
past & present, of the armies of those I love
around me—oh, I sing & sing & sing:


I sing the body asymmetric,
sing of the diseases that grew wings
when I learned to look them in the eye,
sing of the cells that are too eager
to grow in my brother’s body,
sing too of the women that taught him
the body is not a battleground but a reservoir
—then taught him not to use his arms
as swords, but to drink from the Earth & smooth
the swelling waters. I sing of the IV that is
a mother cardinal, feeding to teach him we
must first be grounded to the world before we learn
to fly—oh, I sing & sing & sing,
because I know we extend so far past our bodies:


I sing the body psychometric,
sing of the hands that raised me
& the mouths that guide me forward,
sing of the boys whose fingerprints hung onto me
long after I pushed them away, sing of the beautiful
mothers & the beautiful fathers who linger
like a gentle mist, coating my skin with their legacy.
I sing of manmade mountains & technological
tastes, sing of the proof of the body’s inexorable push
outward. I sing the world—testament to the body’s quest for
immortalization, that we are all one body
—oh, I sing & sing & sing:


I sing the body prophetic,
sing of the body that already knows the aftermath:
sing of all of us constellating into the soft feather of the future
—& as it drifts, relentless, down, & because
we know it will hit the ground we sing & sing.

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About the Contributor
Eli Apple, Contributor
Eli Apple (he/him/his) is a writer of fiction and poetry. He has lived his whole life in Tennessee and is currently a senior at Vanderbilt University, where he is studying English, Spanish, and Portuguese. In addition to writing, he loves reading, traveling, and going on walks with his dog.

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