after cornell.

Joseph Cornell, Untitled (Bébé Marie) (early 1940s)
i've underestimated
the pleasure of things
catalogued, things put in place.

to know that we agree
"this is a badger. this is not 
not a badger" satisfies

like a well built
chair. rest & know
that we can rest & know,

that the cataloguing, the naming 
can be beautiful, that a name 
can fit & fit well.

we can even refit, replace:
firefly. lost love. still life.
artwork. plaything. like

this girl in her place,
still, pale, except
the color of life on

her mouth, the glistening gaze
behind the brittle thicket
surrounding, adorning her.

the babe in the wood,
aflame in twigs, clothed in
dried delicate proportion,

packaged & shelved,
awake & alert 
to all on the other

side of the glass. 

This is an ekphrastic poem I wrote with my students, that is, a “a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art.” Here’s another one I wrote about a mobile by Alexander Calder.

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