|Arshile Gorky, "The Betrothal," 1947|
the betrothal (1966)from The
How they began it. Dead bodies
moved in the flowerbed, a finger stopping & turning, showing
a page & an ocean, a longboard covered with stars. In the great night
my heart will go out, will be scooped from me, swept thru the water
follow the plane’s route, a place
where boats meet like lovers
in couples, the heart of the diamond, the cyclotron’s heart, its spaces
cleaving me, leaving me dead.
I was dead.
Who steps from the sea to meet me?
Another dead body, a heart like a cucumber
cold, green, in the ice-covered room, receiving my heart
the taste of my blood in her mouth.
Her dead mouth.
The passage into her darkness, a gutter
country of clouds & the blue lips of women.
A hand slides under his shirt. He grows hard. The dancers
forget where the light is
& fall, the dancers forget
their hands break the glass
a finger stopping & turning, showing
a skull. Lift the hammer
& over your head lift the icecap.
Smash thru the air. The air freezes &
freezes against you
covers your hair & your teeth, slits your gums, draws bile thru your nose.
To the sound of drums, the cry of walruses, the beating of a heart
not my own
to the beating of a heart not my own
I was turning.
In the trunk I was turning.
Among crushed hat I was turning.
Under a crushed sun I was turning.
I turned with the sun. A faucet
black water spilt from a glass.
Starting & turning, returning
& starting. A penny.
An American flag.
We called it a place by subtraction.
the betrothal (2014)
he points a fingerat the stars
a cyclotron of racing bodies
like a plane in flight
a darkness in whichlovers struggle
the country hides themhammers strike the air
blood turns into ice
the way the dead do
there is more bile in thisthan heretofore
the cry of water
when the sun comes out
crushed hatswill suit no head
no heart beat
like a drum
a black umbrellaplace determined by
sealed & sold
the skull has lostits gums & lips
deprived of air the dancers
search a passage
leading to a passagewhere the sea waits
with its boats
a taste for breaking free
leaving his bed behindto test the water
set the ocean shining
like a diamond
flower for a heartthe places & the spaces
that a heart fills
blue cucumberfrozen rain
that falls so hard
his mouth can’t hold it
ice forms on my shirtmy cap the beating
of my heart
a feeble sound
teeth clencheda faucet dripping
pennies clinking in a glass
a trunk half full
where a derrick liftsthe bodies of the dead
line the route
they watch & wonderturn a page
that leads them to a room
at night bewildered
heart in mouth& hand aquiver
clouds reflected in a glass
sun in the gutter
the hair atop my headinside my nose
has come alive
my wish is fatal
wounded splita false betrothal
ice invades their bodies
down to the bone