Saturday, November 1, 2014

Athena Kildegaard

Still Life with My Mother, Dead Now Three Months

The painting does not touch the wall. A light hangs above and to the left so that the painting casts a shadow diagonally to the right and toward the floor. The painting could have wings; it could be arising, lifting off. Except that the painting itself is black. A branch of gooseberries, prickly as anemones, sits in the middle, on what must be a table. A surface anyway, dark and simple. Beside the fruit and leaves is a vase, tall, thin, without adornment, sylph-like. In it one white lily, the petals fleshy and expressive. It faces to the left, making it impossible to see the stamen. So much is hidden. There is no water in the vase. If you stand here long enough a petal will fall. Like a hand, it will cover the fruit.

© Athena Kildegaard

Shadow that Settles Against Its Substance

Not the light, but light's memory.

Not the grave, but the stone.

Not the mouth, the ear, the wound.

Not what I carry, but what is lifted from me.

The intimacies of sandbank,
of ash on wind, of leaf and seed borne downstream.

Not my mother's voice.

The mouth opens to sorrow,
the ear to shadow's course,
the wound to willow.

© Athena Kildegaard

Still Life with God

There is no vanishing point, the perspective's askew as if some big hands have reached in from behind to shake the frame. It's a nice frame: gilt on carved fronds and flowers, a sort of Eden on the edges, only bereft of humans. So you are Eve, you, the viewer, tempted by the apple red and solitary, its shadow voluptuous on the white cloth, the fruit lit by an omnipotent light, and in the shaded wilderness below the cloth, legs of the table—shapely, well-turned with claw feet—grasp orbs, persimmons perhaps, or planets. Otherwise the painting is unfinished.

© Athena Kildegaard

The Saint of Death 

only lived so long,
left nothing behind,
not even a photograph, a portrait, a lock of hair.

Take us we called.

No leave us.

Couldn't decide.

Does it matter
whether we go or stay?

The saint teased,
only lived so long,
all morte no fix.

The saint had no truck
with sentiment,
swept shadows before him.
Or was he she?
Who knew.
She he she he she he didn't matter.

we cried
be off.

The saint only lived
so long.
Left nothing behind,
that matters.

© Athena Kildegaard

Early November, I Talk to the Dead

The thin gate
stands open--
a hallowed passage.
Do you remember

how geese linger,
how lopped corn
glows at dusk?
A glory moon

burns on the hob
of the sky. Hurry.
Toothed winds
gnaw at the gate.

© Athena Kildegaard


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