Richard Hedderman "Ode to the Human Shoulder"

The flying buttress of the body, 

transforming shirt or coat into architecture. 

The body’s fabulous rampart

from which a small child takes in

the expanse of the world. The blunt 

brow of the torso— obdurate, dense

obtuse and self-effacing it is

nonetheless capable of an astonishing

range and subtlety of expression: the seductive

flex and lift of the come hither,a shrug

of resignation, impunity or indifference.

In defeat, slumped, or in victory

hoisted in a flash pride. In the bestiary

of the body it is the ox, the bull, the draft horse,

assuming both those spiritual and temporal

burdens unsuited to the slight and delicate

birds of the hands. Carpenter’s square, tool

of the shipwright, battering ram splintering

locked doors in a fit of passion, the shoulder

retains a bewildering seductiveness and guile,

allowing an evening gown to descend

like tapestry, revealing the shoulders

like new moons and cupping the airy shadow

at the clavicle. Rarely erotic until just slightly 

revealed, its relation to the rest of the body 

is subtle and infinite, echoing 

the bent knee, crooked elbow, 

delicious arc of buttock or hip 

and suggesting the body’s numerous frontiers. 

And then to descend: down the shadowy 

slope of the back, down the spiral staircase 

to where the harped-shaped blades 

assert a beguiling prominence 

reminding the bewitched observer 

of a time when we had wings.

Photo: Jonny Linder, "Comfreak." Pixabay.