BY AARON BELZ
(AFTER NANCY AND THE MAP OF EUROPE BY LILLIAN WESTCOTT HALE)
This afternoon, she sits in lavender
and white. A ficus spreads its leaves into
the frame. Next to her and just off true,
a doll in bisque, a clone? Her twin? Behind her
on the wall, a mounted map: the world,
projected? No, the continent askew,
its pastel borders drawn in careful blue.
The year is 1919. A singular
event - Miss Nancy and her doll in shades
of lavender, a book in both their laps,
and Europe on the wall in blue and pink:
Versailles. And now Victoriana fades:
Miss Nancy, with her ficus, doll, and maps,
looks down and to the left and doesn't blink.
(AFTER ABUNDANCE BY HENRI LE FAUCONNIER)
This is hunger. I have lost myself
inside these offset planes of lavender
and blue. In the corner, a hostile elf
collecting canned goods, wine, and vinegar
compares himself to violet. A town --
perhaps it's just a village -- leaks ivory paint
on cottages below it. The elf looks down
at cubist rows of fruit. A plump-cheeked saint
of acquisition, his shadow spirals through
the bottom of the frame. I can't ignore
the plenty in my tray and wonder who
to ask for counsel: what's the townscape for,
the fruit and wine, the lavender and white,
the elf, the tray, the shadows on the right?
It is always best to recollect
the studied summer scent of jasmine when
it's gone: mnemosyne will intersect
the brilliant white, the baffling sweet-
ness, languish in its semiotics, then
reduce the cordial in its yellow flame --
precise subtraction 'til the memory
and summer's early jasmine aren't the same.
Retrospect's the true aesthete --
jasmine in the heart an ecstasy.
WALKING INTO HALF LIGHT
Compensatory, dim with
the threat of absence --
a chord, pianoforte.
This specific light,
rapid, almost purple,
the color of a wound --
suspension of regret.
Two removes away,
a cappella, one soprano
note. Octaves of loss
separate and echo
through chilled ribbons
of bright air. Last-
light shivers, shining
like rung glass.
PRINCESS UNDER GLASS
(AFTER A PENCIL DRAWING OF SNOW WHITE)
Oh, how the little princess has lived on
in her silver cottage, teeny, brunette,
and similar to several kinds of thought.
This little boop-a-doop's a first edition,
long on curls and very short on narrative
technique. Even today, she's worth
at least two tragedies and a sonnet.
Roses, eyelashes, falsetto, and seven
elided little men: she's a real
back-to-nature girl, floating kisses
behind a rigid moon. Pale little princess,
self-conscious as a rook, her underplot
is hidden like a secret daisy,
a kind of Venus bacchanalia with
the trolls. As far as the main story
line is concerned, she's the silk
and patent leather daughter of a new
organic age -- Diana in transcendental
underpants. Time's devoured her image
in the witch's mirror, and here she rests,
laid out long ways under glass,
succulent and supple, a fat red apple
in her pouty little mouth.