The Mind/Body Relation/Ship

I am captain of this ship of bone and blood,
overseeing its sails of sinew, its wheel of nerves,
and it rides the great ocean of Life, that grand flood
of experience, for I am the master whom it serves.
Lord of my vessel, I do as I think I please,
charting a course for a fabled treasure hoard,
and while sailing these seven sensorial seas
I discover a coffin, by chance, and haul it aboard.
Curious for coin, I open the casket to discover
no coin, but a woman who has no beating heart;
yet she rises and embraces me, like a lover,
and tells me her name is Francine Descartes.
I know not what to think of her, or her cool skin,
for while she is beautiful, there seems something strange
in her eyes, and her movements, as if within
her heart there is a hollowness of human range.
Yet, strange as she is, she does me no harm,
and wishes to do little more than to dance
round and round in clockwork circles, arm in arm,
keeping rhythm with me—yet so odd in her glance.
While dancing on deck with this flotsam daughter,
I cannot tell if she is made of flesh or of wood
and so, curious, I throw her out into the deep water
and watch her float—as I would float if I could,
but such heavy thoughts now weigh upon me
and doubt makes me pause at the edge of starboard
to stare at my ship’s reflection upon the open sea,
knowing that the ship is my soul, too, my mind thus moored
in that flawed flesh; and no matter how I plot this trip
body and mind are as one, the same, ever together
so that the captain always goes down with his ship—
always, inevitably, even if he prays for halcyon weather.
More frightening, I think of Theseus and his long-lived boat
and the paradox of his many-timbered hull
and wonder if I have replaced myself while afloat
in the brain fluid of my waterlogged skull.
So many timbers have rotted and cracked and sank
during my journey’s course heretofore…
Perhaps “I” should just walk the plank
and become another shipwreck on the ocean floor.

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