JULY 28, 2004 (WEDNESDAY)
Seventeen Warnings in Search of a Feminist Poem
1. Beware of the man who denounces ambition;
his fingers itch under his gloves.
2. Beware of the man who denounces war
through clenched teeth.
3. Beware of the man who denounces women writers;
his penis is tiny and cannot spell.
4. Beware of the man who wants to protect you;
he will protect you from everything but himself.
5. Beware of the man who loves to cook;
he will fill your kitchen with greasy pots.
6. Beware of the man who loves your soul;
he is a bullshitter.
7. Beware of the man who denounces his mother;
he is a son of a bitch.
8. Beware of the man who spells son of a bitch as one word;
he is a hack.
9. Beware of the man who loves death too well;
he is taking out insurance.
10. Beware of the man who loves life too well;
he is a fool.
11. Beware of the man who denounces psychiatrists;
he is afraid.
12. Beware of the man who trusts psychiatrists;
he is in hock.
13. Beware of the man who picks your dresses;
he wants to wear them.
14. Beware of the man you think is harmless;
he will surprise you.
15. Beware of the man who cares for nothing but books;
he will run like a trickle of ink.
16. Beware of the man who writers flowery love letters;
he is preparing for years of silence.
17. Beware of the man who praises liberated women;
he is planning to quit his job.
Monet Refuses The Operation
Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolves
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don't know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and change our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.