Culture + Community

Body, Landscape, Mirror | Typewriter Poems Series

by | Nov 29, 2018

“The body repeats the landscape,” writes feminist Meridel Le Sueur. Body as landscape; body as mirror. Let’s consider, first, landscapes, of which there are countless varieties, both wild (oceans, deserts, forests, arctic tundras) and tamed (gardens, farmlands, cities, suburban neighborhoods). Landscape can be determined solely by environmental factors, though landscape is also greatly determined by humans – by our desires, whims, will, and – sadly -by our greed. We divide the landscape into cities, counties, countries. We chop down trees to build new houses; we fill in marshes to build cities below sea level. Too often, we strip the landscape of its natural resources to suit our economic purposes and our bank accounts.

The body repeats the landscape: when we carve Mother Nature out from herself, when we starve her of her natural resources, we starve ourselves. Sometimes this starvation is literal – malnourishment from famine, drought, poverty, eating disorders. Sometimes this starvation is metaphorical – we starve ourselves from connection with the earth or connection with one another.

Today’s poem, “Self-Portrait as Mirror,” meditates on these ideas particularly in relationship to women. Throughout history (and particularly throughout modern European/American history), people have a) referred to nature using primarily feminine signifiers and pronouns, and b) viewed nature as something to fear and therefore as something to tame, conquer, and colonize. Women’s bodies have repeated this landscape – this pattern of starvation, destruction, and silencing – for too long.

Body as landscape; body as mirror. In destroying the earth, we destroy ourselves; in healing the earth, we heal ourselves. Let’s start with being unafraid to embody the fullness of our femininity: wild, beastly, fierce, unapologetic.