My Marble Valentine

clytievalentine164x624

February 14, 2010, New York, après la neige, at the Charles Engelhard Court, The Metropolitan
Museum of Art

Free verse version at this link.

Cumbent on the curving marble bench, stone pressing up upon one’s ischia, underneath the vast glass ceiling – el cielito lindo, its snowbergs melting marble frosting, Florentine, and she, one of the best dancers in the world, dancing now in flux, ici, chez moi, et tête à tête.

So she with me (or rather I with her), sustained in my imagination, while the déshabille statuary stands by silent, eyes demurely downcast, or staring off half distant. And here is what is offered, really: Clytie, sun-drenched water nymph whose gnomon body’s shadow time-lapse dances horologic hours; Nydia, the Blind Girl of Pompeii (her story will just break your heart – This doesn’t interest you, you say? She was the most popular sculpture of her day, the Replicant par Excellence, her sublimated mammal gland adornment to so many homes aspiring to respectability); the Mexican Girl, ever-dying; California, her subtle shape the vertical horizoned landscape of our Great Dreamed of Western Coastal Hope (her elevations and declivities await dermographers to measure them); the Libyan Sibyl, stony ewer of intense and abstruse inhalations; and Ruth, Gleaning (we’ll cover her anon), assembled in this room, transmigrants borne without consent (once-quarried rocks in white, cold to the touch), torn from their historic tombs, their mountain beds, from their respective times and places, now laid out artfully in floorplan space, desire lines, indifferent to each other. Their marble breasts bereft of color, their eyes the same, or closed, or half, submissive, their fables told on cards considerately laid in waiting at their feet for another download by another museumanic wanderer, whose divagation will materialize no traceable footprints except those captured in Ray’s solarized sleek photographs, as if he danced by on erasers, without so much as fondling their pallid veiny lovey lumps, their artistic, chiseled and stroked shapeliness, cones licked lightly by his eyes.

But there is, assuredly, an obligation to make a ring around, to give them each the critical once-over: that’s required, that’s Art Appreciation, if not love. How many women let you do that to them? Naked, no less? And so unselfconsciously? [He, appraising her, as if for sale: “Just turn It full around for me, that’s right, y otra vez; and now bend over – la danza de perreo – so I can clearly see your assets.” And she, agreeable, desiring to be purchased, over time, accumulating loot in the process: the Profile, the Hip Thrust Slouch, the Wag of Tail, the Subtle Seated Eye Contact & "Unintended" Beaver Shot, the Boom-Boom Walkaway on heeled struts, with half-turned head looking back across her perfectly smooth back, for his appreciative approval, etc.] The conformation of her hips, her carriage, the subconscious, slight upturn of her pert breasts: a sculptor could plausibly deny intention: the treatment, he insists, is accurate. En vérité, the silver salts his proof of innocence. It’s tenderloin en blanc: “Nude Models! Triple-X-Po-Say! New Girls Daily!” And it’s true.

And their Caucasian featurettes, their neat neoclassic hair pinned back (the dancer’s and the statues’!), the floral allegories (her Y-shaped divining rod, and thorns she holds behind her back: access, perhaps, to her posterior point of entry at a prickly price). So then let’s circumnavigate her body as she spins for us, stands tolerant (having no choice; her retribution for our impertinence our imminent [and laughable] cessations: her lifeless stone to long outlast our sagging epidermal animations) under these blue architected rafters. Or we’ll sit stationary in the low light, observed by her as she navigates the dance floor, absorbing our reflected energy, as her muscles sail her cutty sark across the exhaled twilit space and we inhale the acrid smell of lactic acid, striate, flexed and physical.

Perhaps at night they come to life (though it’s been said before), to dance with her, dance holding hands, the daily pose exhausting. But for the dancer, it’s maieutic, and a telepathic lesson: they teach her how to stand, and how to strike a pose; they know. Perhaps they do some horizontal dancing: After all, brave Hiawatha sits in lengthy contemplation of some speculated thing in his ironic rustic chair (either the demise of his race or his next nocturnal conquest, weather permitting, his quiver filled with pointy shafted arrows). Does Hiawatha have his way, outnumbered four to one? He must be in demand: he is awfully good looking (and big), and powerful and wealthy as a Chippewa chief, and, we read, a man of culture – ideally endowed to make even marble maidens swoon; lesser men, the cunt-struck several, needn’t to apply.

No matter; here they are, and here’s a marble valentine for the pornesthetic tourist, sublime, subliminal, ideal in its forms – metaphoric triangles, loby pendant spheres and irresistible French curves. Here’s Clytie, Apollo’s slumping sunwashed plaything, transformed into a sunflower (bellissima in human form, she should’ve stayed a water nymph – her guileless pulchritude entrancing). Her future in her held and contemplated floret, her taken depilated mound exposed, distraught (what mattered pubic nudity? the damage was already done), her smooth deflowered bower, her young wife’s trump card played à Beckett, her doom and metamorphosis revealed; she loved him but he loved her not (the golden petals pave the ground); for him life dalliance and – dare we say – variety. Clytie was transformed, as Ovid says, to gaze perennially upon the careless sun god’s bright amoral visage. Behind the sugar cubic nymph there dies – in perpetuity – a maiden mexicana, la niña moribunda, impaled by the Spaniards as she held the Christian cross, her pair of naked breasts exposed (the Spanish rabid savages), her pale face marmoreal in the noble throes of violent death. Ultraviolet analysis reveals, wryly, that her elegant and cultured owner flogged himself upon her wounds, his eyes rolled back to heaven and his suspendered trou full dropped: it would, milked, dry invisible to vaporated memory; she wouldn’t accuse him later, her wet lips freshly sealed. [This wasn't mentioned on the card, the provenance, but still, you know he did, just once, manus stuprare, in satiating inspissation.]

And on and on, a panoply of artificial flesh. So surfaceless these femmes, so civilized that when a painter’s wife dear died, he commissioned her tomb’s effigy: her duplication lays gisant in this museum a half a world away, recumbent on her gilded bronze funereal pillow, hands clasped to chest, a tasteful body length of palm leaf lies diagonal from clavicle to hallux, atop her flowing final gown, her choker collar prim around her lifeless neck; she sleeps eternally, serene, his physical expression of her clay his morbid consolation for her absence from his heart, his days and nights to pine alone in Roman arbors. O!

These surrogates so of their time, so actually morbid: frank mandrill mating pornfeed presentation impolite in 1872, when highbrow sexuality wore an esthetic, if diaphanous gown across a single shoulder. And the intended effect to make men crave, to grope the rounded mounded shapes, to separate their unsuspecting legs – honorably, of course: the arch male gaze of dance, the shameless stare at face, ass, legs and tits, the impure carnal thoughts of human reproduction. It’s mutual: The Maiden Ruth, her bodice slipped, shows Boaz her right teat, indeed a gleaner as she gleans his gleaning eyes – imagine this: he notices! –and she so innocent, agleaning (and he so qualified: so wealthy, handsome and of course a member in good standing of the très beau-monde – a match, her figures calculate). So gin a body meet a body, comin thro’ the rye? Aye, we glean, keenly.

The dancer having slipped away, I wander off to fit my diorite sarcophagus, Nut’s naked body arched across its firmament, canopic jars of alabaster, to post my valentine to you, full knowing that you won’t receive it. You don’t live here any more – in my mind any more than I in yours. But still your statuary shadow lingers, intangible, aflicker, slow dancing with the sun. The only way to make a thing to really last, I guess, is this: to carve it out of stone, emotionless, so it has nothing to lose, is hard to break, and remains forever safely frozen, snowy, silent – under the beautiful sky. You effortlessly stole my heart (you care-less didn’t even want it), brought out the best in me, brought warming redthrob joy; then turned yourself to stone, to stand among the thorny trellised roses in the neglected sculpture garden in my life’s museum of memoranda, preserved in these my true and tender words to you, perdurable for all posterity; so please do be today My Marble Valentine.

<<<333

Free verse version:

Cumbent on the curving marble bench,
stone pressing up upon one’s ischia,
underneath the vast glass ceiling – el cielito lindo,
its snowbergs melting marble frosting, Florentine,
and she,
one of the best dancers in the world,
dancing now in flux, ici, chez moi, et tête à tête.

So she with me (or rather I with her),
sustained in my imagination,
while the déshabille statuary stands by silent,
eyes demurely downcast, or staring off half distant.
And here is what is offered, really:
Clytie,
sun-drenched water nymph
whose gnomon body’s shadow
time-lapse dances horologic hours;
Nydia,
the Blind Girl of Pompeii
(her story will just break your heart
– This doesn’t interest you, you say?
She was the most popular sculpture of her day,
the Replicant par Excellence,
her sublimated mammal gland
adornment to so many homes
aspiring to respectability);
the Mexican Girl,
ever-dying;
California,
her subtle shape
the vertical horizoned landscape
of our Great Dreamed of Western Coastal Hope
(her elevations and declivities
await dermographers to measure them);
the Libyan Sibyl,
stony ewer of intense and abstruse inhalations;
and Ruth, Gleaning (we’ll cover her anon),
assembled in this room,
transmigrants borne without consent
(once-quarried rocks in white, cold to the touch),
torn from their historic tombs, their mountain beds,
from their respective times and places,
now laid out artfully in floorplan space, desire lines,
indifferent to each other.
Their marble breasts bereft of color, their eyes
the same, or closed, or half, submissive, their fables
told on cards considerately laid in waiting at their feet
for another download by another museumanic wanderer,
whose divagation will materialize no traceable footprints
except those captured in Ray’s solarized sleek photographs,
as if he danced by on erasers,
without so much as fondling their pallid veiny lovey lumps,
their artistic, chiseled and stroked shapeliness,
cones licked lightly by his eyes.

But there is, assuredly, an obligation
to make a ring around,
to give them each the critical once-over:
that’s required, that’s Art Appreciation,
if not love.
How many women let you do that to them?
Naked,
no less? And so unselfconsciously?
[He, appraising her, as if for sale: “Just turn It full around for me,
that’s right, y otra vez;
and now bend over – la danza de perreo
so I can clearly see your assets.” And she, agreeable,
desiring to be purchased, over time, accumulating loot in the process:
the Profile, the Hip Thrust Slouch, the Wag of Tail,
the Subtle Seated Eye Contact & "Unintended" Beaver Shot,
the Boom-Boom Walkaway on heeled struts,
with half-turned head looking back
across her perfectly smooth back,
for his appreciative approval, etc.]
The conformation of her hips, her carriage,
the subconscious, slight upturn of her pert breasts:
a sculptor could plausibly deny intention:
the treatment, he insists, is accurate. En vérité,
the silver salts his proof of innocence.
It’s tenderloin en blanc: “Nude Models! Triple-X-Po-Say!
New Girls Daily!” And it’s true.

And their Caucasian featurettes,
their neat neoclassic hair pinned back
(the dancer’s and the statues’!),
the floral allegories (her Y-shaped divining rod,
and thorns she holds behind her back:
access, perhaps, to her posterior point of entry
at a prickly price).
So then let’s circumnavigate her body
as she spins for us, stands tolerant
(having no choice; her retribution for our impertinence
our imminent [and laughable] cessations:
her lifeless stone to long outlast our sagging epidermal animations)
under these blue architected rafters.
Or we’ll sit stationary in the low light,
observed by her as she navigates the dance floor,
absorbing our reflected energy, as her muscles sail
her cutty sark across the exhaled twilit space
and we inhale the acrid smell of lactic acid,
striate, flexed and physical.

Perhaps at night they come to life (though it’s been said before),
to dance with her, dance holding hands,
the daily pose exhausting.
But for the dancer, it’s maieutic, and a telepathic lesson:
they teach her how to stand,
and how to strike a pose; they know.
Perhaps they do some horizontal dancing:
After all, brave Hiawatha sits in lengthy contemplation
of some speculated thing in his ironic rustic chair
(either the demise of his race
or his next nocturnal conquest, weather permitting,
his quiver filled with pointy shafted arrows).
Does Hiawatha have his way, outnumbered four to one?
He must be in demand: he is awfully good looking
(and big), and powerful and wealthy as a Chippewa chief,
and, we read, a man of culture – ideally endowed
to make even marble maidens swoon; lesser men,
the cunt-struck several, needn’t to apply.

No matter; here they are, and here’s a marble valentine
for the pornesthetic tourist, sublime, subliminal, ideal in its forms –
metaphoric triangles, loby pendant spheres and irresistible French curves.
Here’s Clytie, Apollo’s slumping sunwashed plaything,
transformed into a sunflower
(bellissima in human form, she should’ve stayed a water nymph
– her guileless pulchritude entrancing).
Her future in her held and contemplated floret,
her taken depilated mound exposed, distraught
(what mattered pubic nudity? the damage was already done),
her smooth deflowered bower, her young wife’s trump card
played à Beckett, her doom and metamorphosis revealed;
she loved him but he loved her not
(the golden petals pave the ground);
for him life dalliance and – dare we say – variety.
Clytie was transformed, as Ovid says,
to gaze perennially upon the careless sun god’s bright amoral visage.
Behind the sugar cubic nymph there dies – in perpetuity –
a maiden mexicana, la niña moribunda,
impaled by the Spaniards as she held the Christian cross, her pair
of naked breasts exposed (the Spanish rabid savages),
her pale face marmoreal in the noble throes of violent death.
Ultraviolet analysis reveals, wryly,
that her elegant and cultured owner flogged himself upon her wounds,
his eyes rolled back to heaven and his suspendered trou full dropped:
it would, milked, dry invisible to vaporated memory;
she wouldn’t accuse him later, her wet lips freshly sealed.
[This wasn't mentioned on the card, the provenance,
but still, you know he did, just once, manus stuprare,
in satiating inspissation.]

And on and on, a panoply of artificial flesh. So surfaceless
these femmes, so civilized
that when a painter’s wife dear died,
he commissioned her tomb’s effigy:
her duplication lays gisant in this museum
a half a world away,
recumbent on her gilded bronze funereal pillow,
hands clasped to chest, a tasteful body length of palm leaf
lies diagonal from clavicle to hallux,
atop her flowing final gown,
her choker collar prim around her lifeless neck;
she sleeps eternally, serene, his physical expression of her clay
his morbid consolation for her absence from his heart,
his days and nights to pine alone in Roman arbors.
O!

These surrogates so of their time, so actually morbid:
frank mandrill mating pornfeed presentation impolite in 1872,
when highbrow sexuality wore an esthetic, if diaphanous gown
across a single shoulder. And the intended effect
to make men crave,
to grope the rounded mounded shapes,
to separate their unsuspecting legs – honorably, of course:
the arch male gaze of dance, the shameless stare
at face, ass, legs and tits, the impure carnal thoughts
of human reproduction. It’s mutual: The Maiden Ruth,
her bodice slipped,
shows Boaz her right teat, indeed a gleaner
as she gleans his gleaning eyes –
imagine this: he notices! –and she so innocent,
agleaning (and he so qualified: so wealthy, handsome
and of course a member in good standing of the très beau-monde
a match, her figures calculate).
So gin a body meet a body, comin thro’ the rye?
Aye, we glean, keenly.

The dancer having slipped away, I wander off
to fit my diorite sarcophagus, Nut’s naked body
arched across its firmament, canopic jars of alabaster,
to post my valentine to you, full knowing
that you won’t receive it. You don’t live here any more
– in my mind any more than I in yours. But still
your statuary shadow lingers, intangible, aflicker,
slow dancing with the sun. The only way
to make a thing to really last, I guess, is this:
to carve it out of stone, emotionless, so it has nothing to lose,
is hard to break, and remains forever safely frozen,
snowy, silent – under the beautiful sky. You effortlessly
stole my heart (you care-less didn’t even want it),
brought out the best in me, brought warming redthrob joy;
then turned yourself to stone, to stand among
the thorny trellised roses in the neglected sculpture garden
in my life’s museum of memoranda,
preserved in these my true and tender words to you,
perdurable for all posterity;
so please do be today
My Marble Valentine.

<<<333

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