Braving the Wilds

Field Notes from the Suburban Jungle

Tag: mortality

Portraiture

Among campily painted portraits
Is our photo, take a few years ago,
A moment, a grain, frozen in
Acids, chemicals, a fixer. The phantom
Women loom large over us, distorted
Somewhat grotesquely and reminiscent
Of discomfort in their oils.

I’m not sure if the collection is
A litany of lost desires, remembrances,
Or a study of the brush strokes, some
Folksy, others more sophisticated,
All portraying perfectly smooth skin,
Protruding lips and out-of-focus eyes.

There we stand, amongst the
Artifice, somewhat true to ourselves.

The grocer told me I hadn’t aged a
Day in fifteen years this morning,
But I corrected him: I have aged 5,475
Of them, some more pleasantly than others.

Some more memorable:
Those that were weighted down like
Leaden grief, others as light as
Sunlit beams of dust;
Most passed unnoticed in the
Monotony of enduring, marked
By one more cup of coffee, one
More walk to the park with a
Canine or another on the end of a leash,
A commute like all the others,
Hanging on the end of a strap.

If our portrait was painted, I suppose
It would be a pointillist one, made up
Of tiny dots, each one marking
The mysterious days we spent
Together, apart, marking
A line on our face, a streak in
Our hair. An Archimboldo perhaps,
A composite of every morsel that
Sustained us, comforted us,
Savored over candlelight
Or wolfed down over the sink
As a baby screamed from his crib.

Not a Cindy Sherman, a Warhol,
Disguised and obscured,
Nor a self-portrait, filtered and
Self-conscious. A candid!
Truer to a Rembrandt, and honest:
A photomosaic that captures
Every moment, a deconstruct.

Because we have aged, and lived, every day;
It’s dying we’d prefer to do just once.

Obsolescence 

The apron, threadbare,
A wilted floral cotton
Piped in a zig zag, ric-rac
With an all-encompassing
Bib, a gathered skirt,
Belonged to a phantom
Woman, her shed skin
Hanging from a hook.

The strings were wrung to
A weakened thread, perhaps
Pawed by an impatient kitten,
Twiddled between a
School child’s fingers,
Barefoot and dependent,
Who, judging from the stain
At the waist,
Must have wiped
Purple blueberry filling
From the corners of
Her talkative mouth.

Perhaps she helped roll out the dough
Grew bored, and tired,
And retreated to the floor,
Next to the cat. Those once
Able, thick ties would take years
Of patience to unravel,
The knots connecting
A piece of vintage
Domesticity to history,
And this empty house.

Fifty-Two Card Pick-Up

“…a game is indeed a clear instance of a process wherein obedience to common rules by elements pursuing different and even conflicting purposes results in overall order.”
-Fredereich August von Hayek

“It is not certain that everything is uncertain.”
-Blaise Pascal

Black suits, smoke, where
There is a red suit, Fire!,
Heralding an unforeseen shower
Of plastic-coated playing cards.

Unfurled, twisting mid-air:
A confusion of butterflies
In transition, in migration,
Suspended in uncertainty.

They fall in a shuffled flutter,
Bent and creased from its
Squeezing projector, in chaos.

Yet each card in perfect design
Symmetrical, rests,
Having lost its mates to
The radiator, the couch cushion,
A rabble of once air born dust clouds.

The deck, useless for solitaire,
Is incomplete, but suitable
For a game of war – or –
As building blocks
For a new house of cards.