/ / Issue 20

               After Kazuo Shiraga

There’s an untitled painting in the Met
that makes me think of bloodied women. It moves in a way

only quiet things move, all the wet climbing toward itself
like reverse capillary action. I could’ve watched that painting breathe for hours

but there wasn’t enough time. In Famiglia’s Pizza we watched small death
after small death pass on the local news, the kids one booth over begging their father

for another slice, and there was Untitled sitting under all
our skins. Is it wrong to hold a grief you can’t explain

or call your own? “The greatest challenge is separating your genius sadness
from performance.” A friend said this to me after M died—

I hadn’t known him well; I felt a hollow that didn’t belong.
Walking across Lake Champlain, I felt it again:

all that space empty like a gutted frog. I lay on the ice and waited
for the water to climb into me. I had hoped to enter myself the way water

enters and keep going, flesh my body into a fuller image
of this uncertain grief. Instead I waited not knowing what I hold

or what is mine. Untitled is red and purple and brown
and I swear you could fall in. Untitled moves in a way

only living things move, like beautiful molasses or like a softness
lining the throat. Anyone’s softness, anyone’s throat.