Monday, September 1, 2014

Barbara Guest

Attic Mirror, collaboration by Mary Abbott & Barbara Guest [Painters & Poets]

from Barbara Guest's The Collected Poems:

The Nude

Studios are stations of reminiscence
in the nimble wind they are shadows

The artist attaches himself to the shadow
he attempts to revive it after the wind ceases,

This mixture of dark and light
is mysterious and adds depth

To the position of his model
who rephrases the shadow.

She reminds him of attitudes
beyond the mere appraisal of subject,

A peace without clothes
with its bestowal of light and volume

Where nudism is born.

The behavior of the landscape of nudism
varies as mirrors reflect

Curves, syllables of grace,
drops of water or trees elastic,

A native body beneath its plumes.

Is a weight become effervescent
when attacked by knowledge

Of shells and other remainders
of sexual consciousness tossed from sand,

They live in a contradiction of time.

The narcissism of the artist escapes into a body
that defines his emotions,

An interior where his own contour is less misty.

The figure is a nominal reminder that existence
is not pantomime as relieved by the artist,

The body of the model, the lift of her torso
the extension of limbs, fold of skin

Express reality beyond tenure of the brush,
shell or escapist sail,

A severe distance is established between her realism
and his anxious attempt to define it.

The painter desires the image he has selected
to be clothed in the absolute silk of his touch,

Lonely himself he has admired the glance
of kimonos, mirrors, fans and bestowed them on her

Who for many minutes of this day
borrows from art to cover her nudity.

The artist chose these objects to enrich space
around his model's hair or even her breathing

Which you notice as it shifts the atmosphere
in which you keep watch with a calm become necessary,

You are the viewer and without you
the picture cannot exist, the model shall cease to breathe.

The artist will sorrow even as darkness
replaces his brilliance of color.

The viewer inherits this nude
as a reminder of his own weightlessness

In a natural world
made winsome, or tense or aggravated

By the requests of an unclad body
with its announcement of dimension and clarity.

The need of the artist to draw the body
is like the love for three oranges,

He searches the world to find those spheres
that will confine the fluid nude,

There is with him a desire elemental
in its urgency to savor the skin of the body

The hues of geranium before the exit
his allotment of reality.

As the swan entered Leda
so the actual timing of an artist's abrupt gesture

Is supernatural despite interferences
of local ornamental mundaneity,

The supernatural contacts ecstasy hidden
in a guise of nudism.

The artist borrows mannerisms and technique,
he is free to copy, the other world is ambitionless.

An aura once restless now subsists
through residual favors on reverence,

Eve stands by her cypress,
a quiet nude studied by Cranach,

The solid body is led through crocuses.

You are an artist who notices everything
which concerns color and shape.

In the restaurant the artist says a blouse
you are wearing goes with the decor.

The blouse is a watery blue like somewhere
off the coast of Greece, like these walls

The colors you wear tumble into mild earth tones
again like a country, nothing literary

Where the rough body reaches out
a wave rushes over the sand denuding it

You share the classical nude landscape of sand.

At times a silence overcomes the artist,
a fog at the base of columns,

He explains he is thinking of the body.

Its behavior is strange, hiding behind leaves
he can never trap or bribe it.

So deep is the body's memory of self.

Each day there is a different voice,
today while wearing no clothes

It spoke of the essentials of life which were evident,
but the body took an invisible position,

It is arguable whether he shall ever see the face,
her back was turned from him like a goddess

She was either admiring herself or bathing.

Morning traverses her breasts
where she sits under the window of white curtains,

Trees are outside, their branches fix the sky,
she is thinking of nudism,

He draws an odalisque,
it is love they are asking for.

She looks at a canvas,
nature covets it,

Where a fever blots the muslin
clouds start to rise.

There is no figure.

This is landscape,
portrait of nude melancholy

Or its glow which is austere,
she asks, where am I?

He has not drawn her,
the sheen of her body only survives.

She turns herself into a star
above the unattended foliage,

He views her as she glistens,
silver enters the picture.

He confides,
"Each day I define myself."

He notices a coarseness of flesh,
he thickens his paint,

"It is a glimpse into the future,
fields light up," she sighs.

To replenish the sallow on her throat
he adds sunset tint

She reaches for ombre, noir
"It is the narrowness of time."

Respectful moonlight inhabits them.

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