PORTRAIT OF LIABILITIES by Kelli Russell Agodon
All which isn’t frightening,
is heavenly. Is the safety
of birds and the madness falling
into a farewell. Ignite a match,
and a little more light into darkness.
A little more beauty in the melted
wax on the table. We know
there are cracks in what hardens.
In rosebuds. In the deep
freeze of the unexpected
lilies. Sometimes the pond is. Empty.
Like the mulberry bush. The briefcase.
The shame you haul onto the bus.
Today you have several lovers
and they want to hold your history.
Your shallows. Where does light
come from when you are alone?
In your housecoat. In the miniature
bougainvillea. One lover holds
a broken rosary. The other is handing
you a bouquet of bohemian lullabies.
Hush and you hear the stillness,
you hear the tiptoe out of your own life.
When the motel is empty of nudes,
you think about Renaissance art
and how you would stand
in an oyster shell if someone asked
you to. We are a portrait
licked by brushstrokes,
before terror was the bowtie
we reached for and tied around
our necks. We chose pleasure
once, the chiaroscuro, Sacred
and Profane Love, the light
against our cheekbones, the lilies
almost making it through the thaw.
Note: Sacred and Profane Love is the title of the artwork by Giovanni Baglione.
- Published in Issue 20