Balancing a basket of emptiness, a woman
emerges from shadow,
multiplies. Nudes sacrifice
themselves to time.
Carrying an alabaster bowl
filled with water & laurel,
a man becomes many men. A woman
appears in rows of stop-motion
photographs, cradles stalks of lilac,
is a photographic freeze frame,
a sliver of silver intelligence.
Bodies adhere to the act of action,
observed. Looking changes what is seen.
A fractured narrative speaks:
flesh & fullness. A man heaves
a medicine ball. A woman empties
a bucket of flickering light.
Stooping, another woman throws
a wrap of diaphanous cloth
around her shoulders. It whorls
into wings & faces—cherubim.
The woman dances, cloth arcing
As she spins,
the fabric flickers from white
to the iridescence on a pigeon’s neck.
sight, fills fibers with kinesis.
With each stop-frame, her movements
shimmer into Linear A, remains
In her final stance, she petrifies
into the Venus de Milo.
Her arms grow back.
Twelve stop-motion photographs.
The body determined
as an opera. An aria
spirals from a shellac disc. What is sung
is seen. “Descent” &
as in Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase:
an accordion of steps collapses
in on itself. I enter the painting: breathe
burnt-umber air. Leaving, I hear
bodies speak the language of arrival.
Flesh becomes intellect.
Study of movement. Joints
bend into grammar.
What language does the body speak?
A model climbs a ladder, returns
with a rock in his hands,
carries the heft like a libation bearer.
Wires tripped by feet
discharge a phalanx of cameras. Studied,
locomotion magics the mind.
Dean Kostos’ eight collection, Pierced by Night-Colored Threads, was released in September 2017. His previous collection, This Is Not a Skyscraper, won the Benhamin Saltman Poetry Award, selected by Mark Doty. His other collections include Rivering, Last Supper of the Senses, The Sentence That Ends with a Comma (which was required reading at Duke University) and Celestial Rust. His memoir, The Boy Who Listened to Paintings, will be released in September.