The Cats of Claudel
Should I not have cried about the flood?
The mud sluiced back the statuettes
that I made, one shelf, two...
The others were not catastrophic,
and among the figures, the faces,
balanced my cats, their whiskers,
silver water, their meows, my pulse...
Where are they now, now after
the plaster's been salvaged,
and the kiln-set clay, and the marble,
not mammoth, but long as my vision
which once sought such light--
Sculpting from that
was a whirling dervish in wreckage,
and I should have laughed
about the backed up Seine, should
have done as my cats did:
found a spot, curled for sun,
the milk of it, the ivory...
Still, of all that, I made a show,
my triumph, the Salon,
though nobody believed,
nobody paid, except strays
with a fondness for felines,
their genius of just being--
The Seine might take care of this too,
and these... the depths... a whoosh...
and then crash...white chunks entering
To de-sculpt is a pick ax at my blood,
not liquid silk, not satiation, but
breaking and dust—--
I suppose that's when the cats left,
yet here, in these prisons, a roving
eye, a scraggily head reminds me
of their company, and the silence,
the music, in stone
The wings are night dipped
so one can barely see them, only when
nearest, only when feeling how,
like nets of hair, they graze.
From the silhouette of this window, its
cloud & yew-shrouded constellation, there's
enough light to tell the sheer interwoven velvet
which conceives to me exactly what you are.
Of course, at the, center, head to toe,
there's something else: an onyx of heat,
Basalt, ripple-veined, with iron flecks
turning neon green, plum red, muted gold,
pale silver blue. Such colors one would think
solid, like your trunk, arms, & legs,
but, a single sweep down, pressing close,
& all flows to liquid, the river heart
of some redwood.
What tree breathes acquainted
with such darkness but carrying air's bright
flight? Is this the voice of skin, a wilderness
in the city, intimate to bridges, subways,
the tunnels of hustle, streets of peace,
streets, streets of war?
Being all things, I can't call you anything,
not mine or love, though when you slumber
like a log, the evanescence just hovering,
I stroke your back, its stretches of nylon,
& could almost covet those terms.
Music, the ear
drums quiver & limbs, almost
divers ride the tightrope of,
ride the antics of such a trapeze...
Umbrellas unfurl, chairs, the pre-
carious balance trust
brought forward for
anxious faithful faces
smiling to float, make
It look easy----
We dance, do, dream
what we can & sometimes
The soft, the sought scratches,
a hundred stiff bristles
learning to yield.
A cheek will accept them,
lips, & other places too.
Certainly the flesh will say
the rough has a place here, come
on then, pores spread, melt
like magma & shine a little
from what rubs.
Funny, not to feel scorched,
the wondrous contact hardly
leaving a mark
but for the knowledge,
good, good, his face was
that close &
Pox: some legion of lesions, that
manifestation from agents: these
crystalline tubes, cells...
It's intimate, this passage, intimate
as talking on the telephone & wanting
to climb past that dial. It's personal,
this connection, personal as planting
some part of the self & being amazed
how things flourish.
An accident? Was fun,
desperation, dependency involved?
Thanks so much for asking. None
are reasons to judge, exile
the dying, the sick or living
marked down as viral.
Try another approach. Trace back
Tracks, the insidious system bogging
down spirits who'll pay, take chance,
tune out if only to hold hope, feel
its wings, breastplate, a smooth
feathery engine pulsing pulsing
Turbulence ahead. Were you lied to,
kept under, in the dark, uninformed??
My god——"Ma'm, Mister. I love my
child, my man, my woman. Don't you
know?" ——or——"Listen, I was bad
off, o.k. Hey, ain't that enough?"
Enough already. Let up. See. Realize
faces, earth-inmates, all the real or
invisible cages & chains of angels
negotiating a way through, in & out.
Make an offer, a deal...
Still these arrangements, clandestine,
rooted in life, tuck, cover, fold wings
over from shoulders to chests—yes,
especially when descent, a sort of
sleep, may, to those going, be the most