I told him,
I feel my boy
to understand his breadth
when it mattered
as I imagined
even if he
or said foolish words.
droplets tumbled over
as I imagined you
your speaking eyes,
Will you accept,
with the wrinkles,
to not listen,
to not sense,
to not understand your breadth
this becomes my crucible:
to noisily seek and capture,
forcing you to touch my tears
to trust the love I was given
to give and gave,
photo by Édouard Boubat
Surely you know that time of night
when fireflies, tired of their own pulse,
float right into the mouth of a net,
when cicadas begin to sense they are
nothing more than husks for the chorus
that fills them. Surely you have seen
a child slough his trunks and run naked
through a sprinkler, crying out with joy
as you call him to bed. Aren’t you always
calling the name of what you love most
back to you, over and over, pleading, Please don’t
make me ask again, and asking again
until he comes?
By James Crews
So the skin is the greatest organ of learning (Montagu, 211), even in a spiritual sense. Our language still betrays these connections. We are ‘grasped’– we ‘grasp’. We cannot grasp what does not grasp us. Or we ‘grasp’ only in a grasping, violent sense. Those who keep alive their bodies, their feelings, their skin as levels of communication will find it difficult to fall victim to an abstract ‘grasping’, but will constantly retain bodily thought.
In touching we experience the world and one another. In today’s ecological ethics the skin and the sense of touch associated with it become unusually important. ‘As I touch, so I am touched’ (Meyer-Abich, 252). Experience of self and experience of nature coincide. The Western self bids farewell to manipulation and exposes itself to new experiences.
The most intense form of touch takes place in love. Unadorned skin also allows love to be experienced again. A French feminist has said: ‘We have so often used cosmetics to please him that we have forgotten our skin. Outside our skins we remain far from ourselves. You and I far from one another.’
From the first day to the last day, touching (*the healthy kind) is experienced as assurance, confirmation of the self and healing.
-Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, I Am My Body: a theology of embodiment