I watch the face of the painter as she paints,
Her face contorting with the labour of making
Flesh from oils. The velvety folds of saints’
Robes in those old paintings, the ones where symbols hold fast,
Forsake iconography for what we see before us
- the body now gilded; the body not built to last.
The soft folds of knee, of nose to lip, of elbow and neck. The self
Filling up all of its skin, right to the surface,
one touch and we’re –
Allowing the first layers to dry before additional paint is applied is
Essential to achieving stability.
Mustard, white, chestnut. Greens:
Lime and forest, pea and sage and mint.
Feet and shoulders find an outline in orange.
“The light is doing beautiful things on your stomach,”
The painter tells me. I imagine colours swirling, pooling
Around my navel. Colours I’ve never seen in skin, that didn’t
Exist until precisely this moment.
The surprise is yellow.
Tips of our fingers tracing untranslatables into our skin
and we’re –
Tips of our tongues transmitting secrets into secret mouths,
We are finding all of the undiscovered types of red in our bodies.
Tired-eye red, blood red, nipple red.
The green wind that claws upon the windowpanes,
The green leaves that shudder as they fall.
I look at the ceiling, I think about all the people I have ever loved.
And my limbs drape over the table: legs hang, arms limp.
Masking tape is placed such that the shaking
In my arms as they fatigue – all too human, this body electric –
Will allow me to find my right place later, after tea and peaches.
And with all the magic and hope of alchemy, the body
- the body not built to last, the body now gilded
I am more myself than I have ever been.
One touch, and we are –