You are here

The vulnerable neck

Chris Beckett

The nudity of it is delicious and cool,

like an iced pear sitting on a plate.


Alone in this room of ruffs and collars,

it is saying how good it feels to be a neck,


to have the same number of vertebrae

as a giraffe, the same grace as a swan,


and since it looks like a delicious fruit,

it invites appetite, a slight salivation


in the viewer’s mouth, or else

as happens in my case, a sudden urge


to kiss its nape, as though it is a photo

of my lover rather than the portrait


of Sir Thomas Wyatt, painted just a year

before he lost his head and therefore


made this neck, still perfect in its seven

vertebrae and in the carrying of blood,


surperfluous, a limb that might as well

be clothed or not exist at all.


Except, it is so beautifully presented here,

that even if there were no head attached,


I’m sure it would continue to draw eyes

just for itself and not its purposes.


From Ambit 169, 2002.