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I See How You Look at Things that Aren't Me: An Ekphrasis of Longing

it’s not your shape,    which is half heart,

or your bow-crossed arms at a scurry of questions

asking after your well-being.

 

it’s not the small voice    you use to mark our perimeters on the sofa,

or how your fingers shiver out an open window, like petals

                                                                             threatening to fall.

 

it’s not the art itself,

            punctilious, persuasive,

            potent, promising,

            paradisiacal,

paired with precision.

                        and tall, looming over us,

                        like mountains unconcerned with who pass them.

  

it’s how you look at the paintings that removes me from my skin. 

you’ve been here before, with others. you knew the exit signs by full heart. did they tell you? you look in cursive. a pencil gripped by mature fingers, making everything it sees.

a back story. you may be tired but at least you are here.

paintbrush tips the length of your hair ploy the scaling paint out of remiss –

             chipper, chipping, like a flat, flash of lightning

now yellow sand now glass,  

             now curvaceous like a trembling contour

             too small to fit the size of your perspective.

 

cupped in the crescent of your palms is the figure in the foreground, made of strokes hanging like a body from a bridge. so sharp, it cuts through your cheek.                            

I notice how the painting takes whatever of you it can get. just like me.                             

you have to touch it. I know the longing of a short distance, and the odd comfort of a long one.

 

your soles rise a few inches,  

and then,                                       

you lean forward,

and even so,

I know your name isn’t Alice,            

but what if you fall in?  

 

the colors ricochet, a firework for our eyes. it reminds me of time’s passing, how it punctures all things that touch it.

 

watching you

my palette dries

watching it

yours is full as a volcano of white ash.

                                  I hate white.

when we glide through the gallery like two ghosts,

past the concealed electrical boards and foreign signage,

even how you look at the blank walls confuses me.

 

I much prefer the museums that stress on silence.