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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Danaë

"In 1985, a man pulled out a knife in the State Hermitage
Museum in St Petersburg and thrust it in Danaë's lower belly.
He then threw a litre of sulphuric acid over the painting"
"Art attack: defaced artworks from Rothko to Leonardo -
in pictures
," The Guardian, 2012, photo by A. Demianchuk

Rembrandt van Rijn, "Danaë," c. 1636,
The State Hermitage Museum

Not cold coin, wicking up the heat of her body,
but light, golden and quickening, falling on her
belly, her breasts, her hips and thighs. And oh,
that aperture through which Zeus’s light does
pass: a shape echoed by her soft lips, a gaze so
open towards divine desire outside the frame.
Even after that madman’s knife and acid bath,
Zeus’s light pours like honey over Danaë; even
after her dozen years of healing, she’s changed
but not diminished, and welcomes the god as if
it was the very first day his light surprised her.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Critique

USDA, "Rim Fire," 2013

We’re parsing the structure of argument;
there are men wearing ties, yelling on TV,
or men wearing open-collar shirts, yelling
across the Internet, who have no need of
our thoughtfulness. Our scruples. Anger is
what they need; we refuse them, opt out
of screed, of tantrum, we must be better
than that. Those were the days when the
fires spread, forced the bears down out of
the hills, dark fur singed and spangled by
bits of glowing ash. Those were the days
when our coolly beautiful arguments, our
firebreaks, were all overrun; precious as a
child’s sketch, now forgotten, left behind
to burn in this charred, abandoned house.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Edging

A downhill slope, and the leaf mold’s edged
in grit. But oh, the long light! Wicking up-trail,
soaking into the sand, its gold rising as I step
down to packed silt. I watch a wake roll past,
tracing its lattice of arcs on dark mud at the
river edge; it’s not far now to willow, to black
cottonwood and snowberry, the edging for a
beaten-gold path, one that might lead home.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Workout sketch 1

There’s no easy uplift; gravity pulls hard on me.
I try to rise, can’t get free of the ground; these
ridges tug at my knees, my ankles. The air, which
should be thinner, thickens, as if my breath came
through a straw, from deep within a cave. It is all
work, this. My body is the stone of Sisyphus, as
I push myself up, and up. The one thing I’ll do is
what I know how to do, to NOT STOP. At the top,
finally, muscles knotting along my ribs, sternum;
now I follow the trail widdershins, as if unwinding
myself, unwinding these years and the mountain,
until I pass a point I’ve marked for my return leg,
elevation receding like a tide, its whirlpool trail
carrying the stone of my body down, and down.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Turquoise

Hamon jp, "Zanskarie woman wearing a perak
(traditional headdress) composed of turquoises
(Zanskar)
," 1991

In Old French it was called Turkish stone,
a conflation of those who’d traded the
gems with the gem itself: the sky, dug by
hand in Persia. The Diné also know this
stone, how its gender’s male if bluer, or
female when more green. And there are
others still—like a checkout clerk I saw
consoling a woman who’d forgotten her
name, her money, what she was buying,
where she lived—a checkout clerk who,
in brilliant turquoise eyeshadow, told me
she wore the stone, its color to brighten
the gray sadness she saw all around her.
Who could blame her, on her feet all day
at the checkout, this infinite mother of
patience in her raiment of summer sky?

Monday, September 05, 2016

Breakages

Anselm Kiefer, "Breaking of the Vessels," 1990
lead, iron, glass, copper wire, charcoal, and Aquatec;
149 in x 135 1/16 x 57 in; St. Louis Art Museum

We came to live in this small house
with our keepsakes all wrapped up
in bubbles, but I still woke to a place
strewn with glass shards—likely our
cats bumping the new reading lamp,
sending it tumbling against the floor.
The neighbors had their breakages,
too, rocks tossed through two pretty
picture windows (they said “teens,”
or pointed commentary by strangers
angry with change, at us, the world.)
The way a wedding’s sealed by the
glass broken underfoot, or a hand-
blown bottle’s cracked off the pipe
and finished on a pontil rod, it’s the
transferences that are so marked—
deliberate shatterings of the fragile
holds we have on things, each other.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Canopy

I’m as full of changes as a forest at the end
of summer, in its last sweet storing of light
for darker days to come. Me, looking up at
bright clouds through a susurration of that
living canopy, absorbing reflected sunlight
as it moves from eye to third eye, resetting
my internal clocks. And looking back down
at me, frightening but not unkind, I see the
Green Man, in his glowing-skull form, like a
medieval memento mori, Buddhist Citipati,
his gaze steady though the wind blows. We
both know a bit about change and fruition;
both move with, and cross-grained to, time.