We are Creator and Creation
Both the artist and his art
Our first, lush days painted like frescos
Into flesh still wet and new
Sometimes Botticelli, sometimes Bosch
Swirling fusions of shapes and hues
Ever and always a work in progress
We are tattooed by mistakes
False starts and regrets
The burned skin then displayed to all
Equally revered and reviled
By the circumspect eyes of patrons and critics
So achingly beautiful, so grievously lacking
Paradoxical and juxtaposed
I stare at the easeled mirror
A reflection of my handiwork
Itself balanced precariously on a pedestal
Earnestly carved of self-mined marble
Transfixed by the veins, I chiseled deeply
Bloodied my hands and rendered the column
All in the name of articulation
The human gallery is a carnival, a spectacle
Strewn end-to-end with masterworks
Each piece an opus, every creation a rhapsody
Yet one by one, they crash to the ground
Knocked from their underpinnings
By hecklers, by vandals, by fellow artists
Imperfections and faults exposed
Yet despite motive, hunch, or vision
No matter the inspiration
There is one great equalizer:
We are given charge of a subtle palette
Then, tempered by our sameness
Must bravely reach toward exaltation
She feels the pull of four heavy horses,
One tethered to each trembling limb.
With great, cup-shaped hooves they paw the dirt
And quivering, await the signal—
The signal to begin her ending.
Still as a photograph, she lies awake
Willing her molecules to cling together —Please God, just a little while longer—
As she tries to conjure the music
That will calm these wild-eyed, heaving beasts
Threatening to tear her piece by piece,
Straining at twisted harnesses of
Fear, mistrust, anger, and bitter regret.
Already her seams are starting to fray;
Already her edges begin to blur. . .
How did this nightmare come to be
From childhood dreams of sun-dappled afternoons
And pony rides on sleepy, sway-backed roans?
She could swing so high her toes touched the clouds—
But the return to earth is cold and dark as blood.
Steady, she begs her body, steady now
And counts the long moments between each breath
—IN two… three… four; OUT six… seven… eight—
Her eyes are shut tightly against tears,
But her mouth still echoes bile and Prozac.
A few hours more and daylight will come,
Her fists will uncurl, the horses will stand down;
Reduced to nothing more than vapor
And the wish that tonight’s slumber might be
Accompanied not by a dirge, but a lullaby.
I dreamed the other night that I was lost in my hometown. I wandered down streets I should have known past landmarks I should have recognized, and yet everything was strangely unfamiliar. It wasn’t scary, but incredibly sad, and I cried as I turned corner after corner feeling more and more disconnected.
Suddenly, a big, black SUV pulled up beside me—finally, something that felt right—and the window opened to reveal my husband at the wheel.
“Get in,” he said gently. “We’re going home.”
I woke up next to him, just as I’ve done for many years, and I wasn’t crying at all.
Of all the paths my life could have taken Walking this one with you has been my salvation.