Written on the Body: Blood

Image result for blood images

I have updated my post on bone to include some paragraph type thoughts instead of just a poem.  Please take a peek if you happen to be curious about my thoughts on our longest-lasting body part!

Blood is one of the most metaphor-laden body parts, yet its metaphors/ connotations often conflict one another.  Blood is cleansing (blood of Christ, washes your sins) and yet unclean (curse of Eve, punishment for The sin).  Blood can represent relief or punishment.

Blood can also be a warning.  Warning signs are red—a quick Google search shows that they may be red simply because red stands out most clearly against a green background.  They may also be red because they represent fire and blood, both of which inspire fear in human beings.  Blood= pain= danger.

In Enoch Powell’s famous speech (officially “The Birmingham Speech” but commonly known as the “Rivers of Blood” speech), he said “as I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see “the River Tiber foaming with much blood.””  This speech is now commonly accepted to have been a racist one, the metaphorical “river of blood” a consequence of (non-white) im/migration into the UK during the late 1960s.  Blood as a metaphor, in this case, evokes disgust and horror—not just at the idea of immigration, but at the state of a country in which, Powell described, the “ordinary Englishman” no longer wanted to stay.  Blood is a warning.  Blood is dangerous.  Blood is a marker of destruction.

Yet, brought up as a Catholic, I was also taught to imbibe blood on the weekly.  The wine of the Last Supper, representing the blood of Christ on the cross.  Transubstantiation means that the wine in the communion cup literally transforms into the blood of Christ at the moment of drinking.  This bamboozled me as a kid: we are literally drinking the blood of someone who basically wouldn’t have bled if it wasn’t for us?  Thinking about it, it’s still a bit of a puzzle now.  But there it is… blood is cleansing.  Blood is pure.  Blood has the power to heal us and absolve us of sin.

As with bone, the interest for me lies in the contradiction.

Poem to follow, please watch this space for updates.


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