THE LADY WHO COLLECTS ELEPHANTS
The lady of the elephant collection
is alive again this morning.
She awakes to hear
singing from the whales
in the coffee pot.
Her next life swims in the sea
which is nearby to serve her.
All of her glasses gleam,
she has been busy since
On the brick mantle top
her first elephant weeps
offering a silver transparent tear
for her camera which fails so often.
All day she floats through her rooms
in many dresses and changing her hair
into different positions.
Her carpets are soft for her feet.
She lives alone
behind soft-curtained windows.
She does not talk to herself.
HIS LARGE WOMAN
After Homage to Bonnard by Fernando Botero, 1975
She is floating in the tiny tub—huge woman,
buoyant and luminous,
glistening in the bathroom light—
balanced in the room that shrinks to fit her.
Her eyes dream into herself.
No voice disturbs her,
fathomless and mirrored by the thought of
self, under self, under self.
The water does not move—
not a slosh
but wraps around her to the rim.
Blue by blue, they sleep.
The room watches.
The walls weep.
The mirror pulls itself deeper into the night.
The lady with the huge face is opening her mouth to cry.
She was not pretty when she was laughing, now she is a
grotesque caricature of herself. The room is full of saviors,
leaning away. But there is kindness in the world; someone
has called her a taxi.
IN MUTED WINDOW LIGHT
After Sunlight by Sir William Oppen, c. 1925
What has adoration to do with a woman
in muted window light—pulling her
stockings on, or pulling them off :
It is the pose of her body in that light—
the mystery of her attention to
her own beauty,
as though disregarded, as though no one
is watching: not the artist :
or the reader of this :
or the brooding man in a dark room’s chair
who thinks of her, as if she is real
to his thinking.
She is only in the slow, seductive art
of dressing—or undressing—leaning
back—one leg lifted in the air—
the soft light approving and lingering,
and she will pose thus for as long as
anyone is watching.
THE CONTOURING LIGHT
After Woman in Kimono by H. Boylston Dummer
By the easy light of the north window
a woman reads to a goldfish
from a ladies’ magazine.
The attentive goldfish suspends
and slowly fans its tail.
The water barely quivers.
The curtains shine with such softness
that this might be a painting to light,
but it is a vignette to solitude—
that gathered pose
that women reserve for themselves
when they are biding.
Slowly the light alters
and outlines the back of the chair,
the lax position of her hands,
the quiet folds of her kimono,
and shines right through the
mesmerized goldfish glowing in the water.
Gold woman floats,
turns into fish,
curve of moon,
floats under sky-castle,
Her sorrowful eyes
regret what they see.
She is sent to be dream,
so she is dream.
She is looking at you
in the waters of your sleep
—water made of sky-colors
where she swims under your grief.
weighs her down,
she curves into the curve of
the moon. The second moon drifts away.
created her; she could
love you for this, but her mouth
does not speak and you have no words for her.
After The Endless Journey by Georgio de Chirico, 1914
Lady of remember,
Lady without arms or face,
from ironic imagination
sky-lady of maps
eroding lines of direction
prayer-lady of forgiveness
wearing her mask
severed head of artist
looking up in sad imploring
love me… love me…
HE SEES YOU
After Nude Series III by Georgia O’Keeffe
motion and non-motion
made of red light
illusive to his meaning
figment of windows
never where you are
but in some unreadable self
except by light
which borrows you
for its substance
he reaches through you
with his love which is pure
(he tells you this)
if you had eyes
you would weep
though memory surrounds you
like a warning
his eyes close to hold you
reverent and holy
which he names love
hanging in night air
like a vision of pleasure
huge enough to see
from as far away as the street is long
or this long hour or the promise of her door
(first pub. in Muse of Fire, 1997)
Thank you, thank you to Joyce Odam, talking about ladies today with her poems and her blossoms and our Seed of the Week: Lady Luck. For more about de Chirico’s Endless Journey, go to www.amazon.com/Giorgio-Chirico-Endless-Wieland-Schmied/dp/3791327941/. For more about H. Boylston Dummer, see www.artnet.com/artists/h-boylston-dummer/. To see Sunlight by Sir Wm. Oppen of Ireland, go to www.art.com/products/p11726309-sa-i1351834/sir-william-orpen-sunlight.htm?upi=O4M4W0/.
Speaking of ladies (or is it bad girls?), our new Seed of the Week is a surrealistic one: You Will Need the Witch’s Cabin Key. It's not Halloween, but witches—both bad and good—are always with us, yes? See if you can wrap your brain around the witch's cabin key, then send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to firstname.lastname@example.org. No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for plenty of others to choose from.
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