Perhaps this second drift

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By Eileen Tabios

—after “First Drift” by Andrew Joron

If we diminish, to be diminished—this recurring punch line so alien with its familiarity: cruelty is a flawed strategy and yet we discover our cheek against its torso—

If we cannot be more than our least lazy possibilities-the “older woman” weeps from a tongue offered to create a future memory of silk black hose rupturing over thighs of moonshine—

Beauty is reductive. Therefore, within a shadow box my palm perpetually caresses the 45-degree rise of your belly for I, the “older woman,” heard how human history whispers: men with flat bellies should be trusted rarely. Which does not obviate my clinging to the piano’s highest scale—

Toward a man with colorless eyes who transformed me into a virgin so he could roll cigars from tobacco leaves pressed against the tendons riveting my thighs.

“An excessive choral indwelling,” as if perfumed, cushioned salons did not prevent Cellini from feeling the blissful difficulty of art—as if Lorrain and Cezanne did not obsess over one problem for all of their lives: the landscape’s inarticulate rhythm through boulders in sienna, in sepia.

After the Jewish artist hammered three rows of nails against a white wall to evoke 17th century prisoners convicted of infanticide, the lamp and shadows conspired to weave a lace border I wanted to hem on my sleeves.

In Athenian vase painting, the red-figure style allowed artists to describe gesture and expression for the first time; the technical advance destroyed the harmonious relation of all-black figures against light glassrounds. From this enforced binary, simultaneity was birthed through dimorphic vases through which the same scene was depicted in both red and black. To witness simultaneity, one must turn the vessel.

“We also (wanting elision)” would be dung on your fields, grow there the honeysuckle I would sip and lather on your lips as I tear the stitches from your coat to unearth pages you once wrote surreptitiously. (By the flicker of a flame from a quarter-inch candle stub.) All is my fodder: all is my father.

Montage Vol. 6 • August 2002