Friday, December 30, 2016


Jervis McEntee, "The Hudson River Valley," c. 1874

Not sky-clad, but almost: washed with white gold
from head to foot in the weak winter light. We lay
dovetailed, watching the sun rise and kiss us both,
stars settling under the cloud cover. Were we ever
that young, then—will we ever be so young again?
What they know about focus, those image-makers,
won’t help them see: though we dim with age, my
beloved and I; so radiant within our jeweled bokeh.

Sunday, December 25, 2016


A stoat in winter pelage guarding a mountain hare
carcass from a pair of least weasels

“...and soe is the shell gold, being dry and burnisht
with the small tooth of a weasel fastned into a stick.”
From "Miniatura; or, The art of limning,"
by Edward Norgate, c. 1627

The kit provides itself sharp edges, all erupting
from buds near time of first weaning, pushed
out, as baby teeth will be, when larger knives
replace its nursing set. Imagine a farmer, then,
who’d caught and killed a weasel, learning its
canine tooth, the dagger that bled his rabbits
dry, would burnish some great lord’s portrait.
And the wild creature, its joy in killing as pure
as shell gold, sold in pieces for its fur, for art.

Friday, December 23, 2016


Bildersturm: Damaged relief statues in the Cathedral
of Saint Martin, Utrecht; photo by Arktos, 2003

The conservator, making restoration of all that had
been scraped away, binding soft red poliment with
rabbit skin glue: this pillow of clay upon which the
Mother of God will again rest. The image, gouged
down to bare parchment years after its making, an
act of literal defacing, an iconoclasm. Unhallowed.
The Mother’s face will be restored, but first—light.
Slow gentle work, mounding the bole then sanding
it, smoothing it. Later, a full warm breath from this
living woman revives the surface so it can embrace
a skin of light: the golden circle remade, unbroken.

Friday, December 16, 2016


"I had always heard that native people believe that
photographs steal their souls, and here I learned
that in Kayapo,
'akaron kaba' not only means 'to
take a photo' but that it also means 'to steal a soul.'"

From "Capturing souls," by Ricardo Moraes, 2011

A person walks down a street alongside their story,
hand-in-hand with their protagonist, themself. One
finds one’s character compelling, as do others, soon
there are strobe lights. Your surface—skin, clothing,
the ways you breathe out and in—are caught, teased
apart, made absolute. Wading through a cold stream
of attention, unseen teeth tearing off tiny bits of you.
The aperture closes, swipes your soul, plagiarizing a
last bit of flesh and turning it to pixels. “You” now is
the story you walked alongside, as hollow as a reed,
the text-slash-reader impressing the facsimile “you.”
Nothing warm; nothing left with which to soul kiss.

Monday, December 12, 2016


Still (cropped) from "Rain Room" video,
Random International, 2013

A glimpse, then, at the edge of a puddle. Skin
white as the gibbous moon, radiant and cold;
her glance up at me, appraising. A frog stalked
by a heron would feel the same chill I did. She
knows she’s soulless, no opening for anything
imperfect as our finite warmth, or stories that
have endings. A warm thermal footprint draws
her attention: a young man walking. Marriage?
No, those tales are wrong. It’s a wish to join a
world of change, be pierced, made permeable.
She's silvering the asphalt beneath his feet.
A shift in the clouds, and an impossible sight—
perfect beauty, soaked by the rain—stops him.

Thursday, December 08, 2016


Gordon T. Taylor, "Diatoms: NOAA At The Ends
of the Earth," 1983

My fingertips, light on a jelly jar,
yours near mine, as we raise the
dead—these are the things we’d
do for art. We didn’t think to ask
after our dead beloveds, then. I

wish now we had, not to disturb
our fond dead, but to have taken
comfort in a longer good-bye. We
who stumble through uncertainty

in our shape-shifting skins—watch
as the glass rings each letter, fast
then faster, “L” then “O,” dancing
towards “V” and “E,” then “U.” An

alphabet, spelling wishes as gifts;
arabesques of touch/no-touch, all
our longing, scribed in tempos as
intimate, familiar as a heartbeat.

The other side of the board, the
side the cup doesn’t glide upon,
is lit in the absence of light—pin-
pricked with souls, as improbable
as joy, as beautiful as diatoms.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016


Emily Williams, "Water," 2016

The hand, passing through thin air, trailing a
thread of lampworked, molten glass, bound
to and binding a twist of slender rods all the
colors of the tidepool sky. This work is done
with a gesture and an incantation—the soft
curse for a careless burn. If I brought you my
open flame, would you steady my hand with
yours, help turn this brittle glass to flowers?