by Cathryn Hankla
There's a Hole in the Man's Chest, but the Man Is Living
inspired by Robert Gober's "Slides of a Changing Painting"
Branches transform to a man's shoulders,
the space between becomes his trunk.
How much that we know of men is really about trees?
Their chests grow bark.
The knot holes of their emotions
sometimes rot or hold disease.
Heartwood can hollow from within,
and roots seek water in a dry pile of rocks.
Mushrooms steal away the rain meant
to nurture leaves. Silent fungus, invisible, ubiquitous,
a subterranean web growing larger
than a man or a forest.
Sometimes the Man turns into a Woman
Sometimes lines beneath the nipples deepen,
the thatch of hair disappears,
and I think I see breasts.
But the 3-D hole remains.
The injury could be self-inflicted.
It could bloom flowers, but it never does.
When I try to look through it, the hole descends,
tripling in depth, just when I think I spy its end.
Abstraction from a Life in the Body
Any body can turn into a painted landscape
or a page in a book. Flat planes are always
ready to erase our dimensions,
as when we write half a truth and call it fiction.
The amount unknown, the vast interior,
molten core and a million facts-
the man is lying on his back in a hospital bed.
Hourly, the X-ray machine hovers over his chest.
Soon the sheet will cover his head.
For now, he is breathing.
For now, I call him "father."
In a few days his hand
Will draw away, his eyes will dull on a point
I cannot follow.
Standing over the graves of Van Gogh
and his brother, I felt a vague stirring, as of
a journey commencing from Auvers-Sur-Oise.
I then walked the surround of yellow fields
brushstrokes have illumined. Art takes a life-
time, gathers from the living, yet returns
far more than reflection. There may be
no other way than this to live, risking
nothingness. In the background, in the corner
of a rustic bedroom draped in blue, inside
a sound, within a color transformed by
lucidity and the sheen of varnish,
what is it that you can see?
When Leaving no Re-entry Permitted
Un billet, a ticket, marked no return.
Here wander, inhaling scents of lush
pink blooms. Drooping and dripping
from quick snips, invisible trusses.
It is almost too much, this plot snug
as a suburban yard, a verdurous
palette. Wander trodden paths,
heady with deep cultivation. The pace
sweeps along to the ponds. Don't glance
back to the charming abode. Each
leather chair bears the impression
of a wide, famous behind,
the impression that this painter
has just stepped out for an extra loaf
or a plein air sketch.
Alas, without proper credentials,
Claude Monet cannot rejoin us:
toute sortie du Musée est definitive.
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