Painting & Sculpture

Touch Gallery: Joan of Arc

The sculptures in this gallery have been
carefully treated with a protective wax
so that visitors may touch them.
— exhibitions, the art institute
of chicago
Stone soldier, it's okay now.
I've removed my rings, my watch, my bracelets.

I'm allowed, brave girl,
to touch you here, where the mail covers your throat,
your full neck, down your shoulders
to here, where raised unlatchable buckles
mock-fasten your plated armor.

Nothing peels from you.

The Museum

A clamor, in the distance. A crowd running under the rain beating
down, between the canvases the sea wind set clattering.

A man passes crying something. What is he saying? What he
knows! What he has seen! I make out his words. Ah, I almost

I took refuge in a museum. Outside the great wind mixed with
water reigns alone from now on, shaking the glass panes.

In each painting, I think, it’ s as if  God were giving up on finishing
the world.

Translated from the French

In Eight Parts


I grew up an anxious painting by my dad’ s shaking hand.
In the painting of my dad, a quiet hole beats
through the dull, black night. I’ m heir to an orange heart
in the rhythmic black where a man leans quietly
and wonders. I wonder about my dad, a hole
in my painting. I used to think my dad was dull,
but his shaking hand gave rhythm to my body.
In my dad’ s painting, a hole glows orange in the dull night
where I sit beneath the canvas looking up.
My dad looks down and laughs.

In Another Room I Am Drinking Eggs from a Boot

What if the moon was essence of quinine
And high heels were a time of day
When certain birds bled
The chauffeur is telling the cook
The antler would pry into ice floes
Swim with a lamp
And we’ d be shivering in a ditch
Biting through a black wing
There would be boats
There would be a dream country
The great quiet humming of the soul at night
The only sound is a shovel
Clearing a place for a mailbox

from The Task, Book I: The Sofa

Thou know’ st my praise of nature most sincere,
And that my raptures are not conjur’ d up
To serve occasions of poetic pomp,
But genuine, and art partner of them all.
How oft upon yon eminence our pace
Has slacken’ d to a pause, and we have borne
The ruffling wind, scarce conscious that it blew,
While admiration, feeding at the eye,
And still unsated, dwelt upon the scene.
Thence with what pleasure have we just discern’ d
The distant plough slow-moving, and beside
His lab’ ring team, that swerv’ d not from the track,

(“Amidst the rush and roar of life...”)


Amidst the rush and roar of life, O beauty, carved in stone, you stand mute and still, alone and aloof.
Great Time sits enamoured at your feet and repeats to you:
“Speak, speak to me, my love; speak, my mute bride!”
But your speech is shut up in stone, O you immovably fair!

Dream of Ink Brush Calligraphy

In prayer:
quiet opening,
my artery is a thin
shadow on paper —
margin of long grass,
ruderal hair, sister to this
not yet part of our bodies
your lyric corpus of seed
in rough drafts of pine ash,
chaogao or grass calligraphy
in rough drafts of pine ash —
your lyric corpus of seed
not yet part of our bodies:
ruderal hair, sister to this
margin of long grass,
shadow on paper,
my artery is a thin
quiet opening
in prayer.