The Bodies by Elizabeth Spires: a Critical Response

The Bodies by Elizabeth Spires: Critical Response

The Bodies takes the perspective of a woman of an unknown age. While short, the poem asks deep, abstract questions that are meant to keep the reader thinking about them long after the poem is read. When referring to bodies, the woman describes bodies of women, men, and that of the world. Additionally, I find that much of the poem can be related to plants in some way.
At the beginning of the poem, the bodies that are in the sauna, presumably women, are described as, “Naked, disproportionate, lush,...”. For the first time in this class, there seems to be many naked bodies in a group. The bodies are disproportionate and “...hung and burdened with flesh...”. When compared to a text like Gray’s Anatomy’s ideal body, these bodies seem to be imperfect and probably contain excess fat. The bodies are lush, and the woman mentions, “...they open slowly, like orchids blooming out of season...”, proposing that these women have bodies that are similar to plants. This may suggest that the bodies all look similar, especially since they are all naked, and have a sort of natural beauty, as plants such as orchids do. Further, plants are also “naked” and tend to be disproportionate.
Next, the woman describes, “the rank and file of generations moving without pause”, when referring to the bodies of young girls, their mothers, and the mothers of the mothers. Once again, this can be related to plants and all life for that matter and how we will reproduce for an infinite number of generations if left uninterrupted. The young girls bodies are considered androgynous and like “willows”. Plants are certainly androgynous, and perhaps young girls will grow and flourish and become stronger as willow trees do.
As the poem proceeds, she describes the bodies of men who are in a different room than the sauna as restless and, “...searching without knowing what it is they search for...”. By saying this, she might be conveying the idea that...