Sculptor Sandy Frank and I have been percolating on this project now since spring of 2009, when she asked me for a handful of poems to pen across her sculpture of a male torso (back in the time of early morning check-ins, strolling up the kindergarten rampway as we dropped off our girls and rushed apart to get to as much art and writing as possible accomplished before pick-up). Our hope was to create a collaborative, aesthetic work of art combining our passions…with the eventual goal of helping to put bread on our tables for our families.
Some of our process trail and tangential posts related to Sandy’s beautiful work: Our first sculpture poetry attempt: Winter Solstice. Blog post on male vs. female pov in poems: When Sandy asks me for a handful of poems. Sandy’s work at Fertile Source: Three Sculptures. Interview with Sandy at She Writes: Writing as Prelude to Sculpture. And of course, check out Sandy’s website for more images.
And now to the work itself.
In a parallel world of dream
I see a red pearl in the sun.
And a cardinal, flying,
then still, in branches
of the orange tree;
through tears, a red king,
whose sunblades almost
strike my eyes. Some ancient
enemy, hurling down the black stem
of the glassblower’s lance
making amends with the mouth
of an apprentice–
warbles through my body
in a hot raid
radiating like the cardinal king
shaking oranges to the ground.
The sudden shears cut molten
lips from the wick–
the rodless vase
cools. Cell by cell,
you withdraw; I wake
in the amber light of dawn
while you dissemble–
of white veins above me.
The cries of the first birds
melt in our untouching mouths.
Poem originally published in Holding On and Letting Go, Coe Review Press, 1996, and in the poetry collection, November Butterfly (Saddle Road Press, 2014).
The Painter’s Wife
white dots specking his neck and skull,
a primered knuckle through the milk jug
without apology for the swig
or cold hand on her breast. Downed lines
mean dark when he’d rather have sun
to finish the job, or if here, like now, inside her,
light to watch himself by (and her), overalls
at his ankles, spattered with the colors
of the housewives of the neighborhoods.
restored, the refrigerator
kicking in, and under the stairs
where his ribs anchor hers to the floor,
a bare bulb burning into her eyes.
Outside, the deck is slick, boots
warped with chill, amphibious;
there’s his forehead to kiss
and the letdown of thunder, the crotch
of her jeans gritting along her skin’s
seam. At her feet, to the spit
of soaked gravel (his retreating tires)
a handful of furred sow’s ears listen
for spring without head or brain.
Poem originally published at Linebreak, 2009 and read by Jehanne Dubrow.
A Maritime Trilogy: Querent, Seer, Selke, appears in November Butterfly (Saddle Road Press, 2014).
May 2015 update:
Selke took top honors at the 26th Annual California Clay Competition at The Artery, Davis, California (Frank was awarded 500 pounds of clay–which bodes well for more of her beautiful sculpture!).