Listen! I’m not talking a cake walk of “strong men”
tottering as giant toddlers in car-shell dresses;
I’m not talking soft on the inside like Schwarzeneggy
when he punched that camel in the face as Conan;
I’m not even talking the perforated industry of bees.
No, I’m talking Lidia who proves beauty’s never been
a floaty form that fits a concept with disinterest.
Beauty is a muscle of held breath lifting roots
of itself until a quantity of words or metal, say,
is made a personal best.
I don’t know if it’s a bit of death or some lost
cause that I’ve been grieving, but I’m taking heart
from the slo-mo asylum of your arms,
powering a sound-track of turbines, sirens
and creaking keels, as you thrust up
through the air’s water before squatting
down in your own element and cradling
the bar to yourself. Now that’s what I call
the beauty of under-standing: seeing a human
primed to burst free inside its own cells.
So we’re also talking anti-Tantalus:
not grapes or water out of reach, but causes
fleshed out and pushed to the level of effects
so a body may show how the surprising pauses
or lipstick it begins with may turn out to be “will
to power” or a portrait by Gerhard Richter.
That’s what I call the beauty of up-bringing:
surging to stand still as a war that’s made
a monument from all that time running out
of you and into other people.
It makes sense to exchange something absent
for something really solid and heavy,
and what a strange set of movements
you have to make to execute this present! –
one foot forward and one foot back,
arms raised victorious in surrender until
you can gather yourself to stand for it
and finally give it up. Watching you
I fucking love my life – and so it drops
back into place, falling happier once again.
Ode to Lidia Valentín, Weightlifter
4 May 2016