For Louise Bourgeois
At first I made figures without any freedom at all.
Then tiny windows started to appear.
In a relation between two figures
what, when one succeeds? Gradually
these relations became freer and less subtle. Both
the figure and the sky appeared, together
in the open air, serious and dark. I was watching
a woman place a beam in her bag when one withdrew
from the other, awkwardly
between areas of rock, such that only the beam
remained. But the woman held on to this dark fabric
as if the crime concerns spirit, although neither believed
For Yves Tanguy
For the shortcoming of paper, overestimate satin—
wake, in human wail, a woman on the balcony, holding two lemons
naked and civil—engross in moonlight, gradually
take to the anthracite, basalt, enclose in water every nuance
of the cosmic vision. Speculate nothing. Walk in cool evening shade.
Hand a beam to this woman in passing, ask for the beam — drifted
damp violet above the rocks — someone alive there
dismantling it. Years later
the averted figure, the sky vanishing across atoll cut in small shapes—a desolate, darker thinking protrudes
chalky, rocket-sharp cloud—suppose this is not the root
of everything? Walk in the cool evening shade. Cover with fine hairs. Ask
for strong wind. A complex storm. A series of these.
For Marjorie Welish
How to introduce suffering in a lemon?
How to ensure that allegory is not fatal?
If the lemon weeps, out of love
deny it. Begin to pray. Begin to feel
at home in the cosmos. If the lemon were a mountain species
accompanied by a very long profile — a window
or the origin of human sensation? Pain will define the outline
the heart, the mind, the soul will imitate this material inadequacy — will force
the human action? Ignore the waterline. Become pastoral
for the lemon. Territory
that knows itself — a finite tile
of yellow. And when the wind rose to fill an air there began
no other setbacks.
Lynn Xu won the 2007 Summer Literary Seminars–Russia poetry prize for the poem in this issue. New work will appear this summer in TinFish.
Canada & its place in the world. Published by
the non-profit charitable Walrus Foundation