Two PoemsThe Blood of the Fish
for Gustav Klimt
The painter is beautiful because he can see
the sway of a woman in a water snake. He names
a painting Hope and means with child. To him,
Eve is not the bedmate of a serpent, she is a soft,
china-colored body for Adam to rest on. What is
Voluptuousness? A pot-belly. Excess? A river
of red hair. Poetry is a girl swimming in a white dress.
Love is a gypsy. Sleep is a witch. The most beautiful
girl in Vienna gave him her first kiss. She went to him
to find out what beauty was. And so, he covered her
in a blanket of carnations. Every woman he painted
had daisies sewn into their curls. What exactly does
a kiss do to a girl? It makes her face fold over,
and her toes turn like scallops in the grass.
The French Quail
Monogamy is rare in mammals. Only a handful
have ever been faithful lovers: beavers, otters, bats, a couple of rodents,
porcupines, dolphins, certain foxes, a few hoofed goats, and a primate or two.
Birds, on the other hand, serve as the archetype of fidelity. The Common
Quail, favored breed in French cuisine, famous for her small, plump body,
eaten complete with bones, either thyme-marinated, pregnant
with goat cheese, or drowned in a creamy grape sauce–are most delicate
when presented on a platter encircled by her whole brood of pickled eggs.
But when I think of this meal–the entire family, minus the man,
I can’t help but ache for him–he who makes love to only one hen
in all his life, wandering in the grass, hunting for any sight of her–
the feather he most adores–and their very own clutch
of cream and brown speckled eggs, that he would not dare to make
with any other bird but her.