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Three Songs for Vija Celmins


I do not love the web but the spider,
The blackened stars and not the negative white of sky, the tiny arc of water
Moving in time with the others.
Where is the arachnid missing from its web?
Gone forth to bathrooms and beds
To leave a welt across its neighbor’s ass,
A red line rising up a sleeping thigh.
But to kill one is bad luck. Pick the furry legs
Up gently on a plate, place it out the window.
The web becomes a wrought iron display
Of sinister. A Hitchcockian trick of the empty.


The alliance of ships and stars is an illicit one,
A tawdry embrace of metal and ink,
An obscene coupling of redwood and moon.
It is this gallery that causes so much trouble,
The wrap- around snakery of the 2nd floor,
Where viewers scratch their skin like the instruments on metal.
Elsewhere in the building they would exit
With their faces smeared in pigment.
Here the boat sails on in the dark,
Saving only what is removed by process
To guide us, celestial orphans of gray and white.



I am stubborn. I am difficult. A “panorama of waves”
Is not enough to describe me and yet            
Too generous by far. I often dream of drowning, a tsunami pulling me under by the heel.
But dreams are a gift to the ridiculous, selfish I. Here
A picture window of waves is stagnant and calming.
Where the hovercraft goes. No one cares,
For it spoils the view. The giant squid and the shark
Swim deep beneath the point. Crest and dip
After crest and dip huddle together like beehive pockets.
We can never go anywhere else.
We are stuck here. Stubborn and difficult and tiny.


Mary Donnelly


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2004

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