Mute in the Corner of the Museum of Love

1 February 2014

Victorine Meurent, nicknamed La Crevette
modeled for Manet in Olympia and Dejeuner sur l’Herbe
also posing as a matador and with an African Grey Parrot
they were estranged when he rejected the Salon
so she became a painter and modeled for Toulouse-Lautrec
living out her days with Marie Dufour
in the Parisian suburb of Colombes
of her paintings, only Le Jour des Rameaux survives

Do words have enough of the taste
and texture of a low b flat
the sound of green
or the perfume of the back of your neck
to resist the lobotomy of thump
and the onslaught of ideas?

Prisoners in solitary, long distance truckers
sailors in the doldrums, high altitude pilots
and mushers with sled dogs in a flat icescape
see symphony orchestras, UFOs, steam trains
weird sea creatures, and baritones singing Schubert lieder

The ocean’s breasts heave serenely
its hair caresses the rocks
and it rests its forearms on the wharf
saying what a vivid orange voice you have
and isn’t 87 a fat woman
with a man twirling his moustache

Ingres told Degas to make lines, lots of lines
Renoir said he painted with his prick
but if you attach a rubber hand to your arm
and put your real hand under the table
when someone caresses the rubber hand
you can get an erection
because visual beats tactile every time

I see this nothing and it is something
that’s where the trouble comes in
the girl without hands doing arithmetic
with her non-existent fingers
a phantom foot can have a bunion
a phantom wrist a watch

You see the earth give birth to the full moon
like a turtle laying an egg on the sand
but when our night ends
the bay swallows it whole in one gulp
leaving a folly of bubbles
inlaid with lacquer marquetry
with the poet paid to be a naked statue
mute in the corner of the museum of love.

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