I saw the Son of Man lying on the 95 –
probably one of a dozen prints,
someone’s elementary school project
now splayed like a fossil
blanching in the sun –
his sheltering apple strudelized.
It reminds me of how the sky is,
its sheer-blue polythene
perforated with clouds. In another scene
the invisible priest presides
over his banquet, feast of culture.
Lifting his rebel shape,
a red communion wafer.
That portal was once a message in itself –
but then the landscape shifts, and my mind
quivers, loosening against the seep of mirages
with no focal point, no missive.
Eye gone. An aperture snapped shut.
No, about permanence he was never wrong:
that polite old anarchist, with his chest of toys
stooping to pack feathers and
rubber eggs, stripping ossified
sheets for playing the ghost.
He tells me how he’d end it,
if it were up to him:
more dignity, a murmured
a jade of light off a pigeon’s wing.
Never saw him but in a beat
I heard those symbols sing.
Naturally today, there wouldn’t be the same uproar.
It’s a fine point, but one that must be made:
viewers participate. They are looking for more
than steepled-fingered provocations,
or ideas that soften under the tongue.
They want themselves to be absorbed. So creation
is easy, simply dredging up the pith
from pools of what they know. Our act, then,
is one of revival – but we sever the myth
from its monster. If we had a manifesto would be
‘the perversion of all that is significant’ – has a nice Marxist
ring to it, I think – and you can rid yourself of contextual debris
once you’ve begun stretching out those signs
like latex, peeling shell from shell, unstitching
what history has wrenched together
to divine the dark, viscous nub –
yes O yes once you pierce through it’s wonderful
– congealing in its vagueness,
native and wordless. Craving art turned flesh,
they feel already the sticky saccharine
dancing on their lips –
that pleasured sting of uprising,
the joy in separation.
The ocean hits the shore, and pulls back
with a shudder. It is bought and discharged by the moon.
Mosaics of meaning, still we wobble
and seem off, as we stand
looking at a painting with one eye shut.
Poem by Alexandra Beukers. Illustration by Alice Yang.