Monday, April 2, 2012

Ariel Gordon's quotable from Hump


At night, floodlights
in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden
choke on fall leaves the way the river choked
on leaning uprooted trees when we drove over the bridge
& saw the pile-up, the surge
of water before driving back into a day unaffected
by spring’s rising gorge. The floodlights, the leaves
make Leo’s woodland animals, set along the garden path,
appear to suckle & lick each other
in stripes of light.

Fifty years ago, when Leo took the time
to texture backs & sides the leaf-growth
would have been the end of deer’s snuffle
in the snow of bear’s back-throat
rumble but this spring the animals are neutral: cast
just as his girls were cast, their breasts bunched
like the rabbit hunched in the leaf-litter, waiting to see if we pose
a threat. The bunny has been bronzed by its caution
but the girls with their pigtails & perky tits are free
to recline on their marble pedestals: an old man’s fantasy
as much as the busts of men in power
are an old man’s fantasy & we could touch
the old men, the girls in ways they never would have permitted
in life. There would be no startle, no bounding
for cover but we stay to the path as the light plays
over the wrinkles of men & the hardened
nipples of girls.

At one end of the garden a massive metal Zeus
points at a mallard, his rippling call echoed
by the laughing girl & the silent boy
who chases her, reaching for her cold hand
all along the paths as we hunch, creating cleavage
under sweaters we’d put away for the season
& pulled out again, the material scratchy & strange
after a single week in storage & her laughter
is a warning the same way the mallard’s
calm body
& churning feet are a warning
so we loop away, floodlights spots & voids
in our fields of vision, some gardener burning
daylight to find the best way to lead us
down the garden path
at night, shapes overstated by darkness
the same way snow & sculptors overstate,
making monuments
of men & the hardened nipples of girls.

From Ariel Gordon’s Hump
Palimpsest Press 2010
Trade paperback
ISBN 978-0-9784917-9-6