This is not a poster, you said. Not something to be grasped while riding on top of a bus. This would admit no witness without proximity.
Your body a landscape of fossil-ripe skin. Your body an ancient object of bone, stone, shell and wood, the promontory above storied seas, the cave of hillside forests.
Your body inviting touch, that the fingers may know the harmony of its swells and hollows, the full aria of its full-throated longings, even at rest.
Inspired by the sculpture of Henry Moore.
A glossary of charcoal footprints on paper: here a slash, there a fat wave of liquid line, here the smear of a hot and urgent press. Who made these? People asked, of the aging artist’s early work. I was alive and singularly free, she told them. Having neither fame nor proximity to greatness, she had no reason to attempt real art. Not yet. These were only experiments, rehearsals for a greatness to come later. They may be her best work.
In preparation for visiting a local Georgia O’Keefe exhibit, I came across this article suggesting the technical superiority of the artist’s early work in charcoal and watercolor on paper. The title of a spring exhibit featuring this early work (at MOMA) is To See Takes Time.
Window, lens, hand, soul.
You appeared on a certain corner every evening with your camera, to enact a ministry of light. Recalling childhood, you arrived in the circle’s fullness each time. Former strangers worked with you. You created each image together. This is how you said, I know you.
Every moment was a breath of spirit. In this world of surface illusion, you reached your illuminating hand, your goal always, touch me, touching you.
By devotion to the details of flesh and fracture, shadow and shade, the drape of traffic lights over wet pavement, each frame became a reminder: look at us here, in the same image.
Those birds are one creature. Those ants are one creature. Gathered on the corner in the glow of wet streetlights, one creature. And you took it all in, and said, we are here to work out our fear of being.
Inspired by the work and spirit of Khalik Allah, as generously shared in an interview with J. P. Sniadecki in BOMB.
Worry faces, worry rug, worry gesture of hand, furrow of brow, the expression of the weary in love. Wonder the ritual, the circle, the bared breast, and mythic flight. Stitch these stories of threads from what the weather tore open. Your arrival is an act of mending, of repair, the slow work of hands and thread, returning and returning to worry a single line into light. How like the handling of a body, where each fiber has a mind of its own. How all-consuming to do, how uninteresting to watch. How unlike the heroic arrival of the vanquisher with the sword. How unlike the swift rescue, the problem solved, the fix.
Inspired by the astonishing work of Sophia Narrett, interviewed by Colm Tóibín in the most recent issue of BOMB. The title of this post comes from one of Narrett’s works.
To set off, advancing, arms folded over stems: tulip, iris, gladioli, desert rose–– down a path of forking tongues, the question ever which branch, now? ––and be content to dance around an emptiness and never satisfied, to be always on the way and getting nowhere, arms scratched with low branches, thorns; ankles bitten with flying questions, the bloodsuckers biting a frenzy, each new itch auguring branches to come, and know this is happening now, the meaning, it is happening all over you, and never try to catch its supple forms in feeble nets, knowing each tool too insignificant to hold any single marvel, capable only of taking a wandering body––just as scratched and bitten––from its true glory, the act of moving out and out, beyond itself.
Shoveling silence over buried forms, brush the night with dark lashes. Wait. The memory of suffering suffers the memory of love. And yet, it will make you drunk on the idea of losing what was never yours.
Make yourself a deer. Run a bright flash of sinew over wet grass, until you get to the shore of the day where you witness a rising wave and the sound of a whispered I am. Find that you still hold a glowing flame, tiny and quivering, at the back of a breath.
Notes while reading an excerpt from “Deluge” as it appears in The Hélène Cixous Reader.
To build what may be entered.
Enter this poem. Recognize its ladder. You know it from your grandmothers’ dreams. Here is a plush carpet of sound to somersault you into the dizzy end of the last hallway, hatching to bird.
Here is a poem to be pinched, swung from, picked like a lock, a cast-iron rhyme in the chest from which freshwater fish swim, unschooled, from the unheard, in a furred fury of feathered wings, erupting in collective bloom.
Here come the blue doves, announcing. When the new one is born, there will be change. There will be. Change. Their will.
Time is a baby in the belly of the whale, its new song of a frequency above us. And so, below. Climb into it. Here is a row of commas, hooks for the pulleys to lift us down, held fast to periods anchoring the lines of struck sentences whose ghosts fill the page, a waiting congregation. To be redeemed. Their histories.
Inspired by the architectural poems of Ry Nikonova.
When we went without counting, light shows played across our eyelid curtains, and language curled around us like cats, love-biting our hands, ears, toes–––inclined neither to obey or defy us. We would lick its back in turn. It would sleep on our bare chests. The water taught us flight. If the clock watched us then, we never met its gaze.
It was so, so, so.
[Much? Or little? Who thought to measure? Not us.]
We grew spaces from the back alleys of our breaths, filled them with song. Laughing, we spilled it everywhere, the new world baptized, each feeling a benediction.
The moon world waking, you stretch sheer fabric over frame and paint a transparent scene, so that a witness seeing lighthouse, bird, and figure looking back, might also see the structure holding them in place. What does it mean to do this? You ask, of every painting, finding histories of art in every new work, the language being learned even as you look.
Inspired by Glasgow-based artist Merlin James. Italicized phrases come from this interview.
I remember a wooded womb with a smooth sitting rock in the center, the dappled light of its dirt floor, where I watched pill bugs. May I not squander those astonishments that would come so often, visitors in shadow and shine––the laughing leaves, the squirrel’s knowing look. The kiss of ladybug against spring sweat in the hiding pause after here I come, with a seeker in full force, not yet arriving.
Inspired by Jorie Graham’s Cagnes-Sur-Mer 1950: “May I not squander the astonishments.”