|Jan/Feb 2009 Poetry Special Feature|
Odd Nerdrum, 1965-66
Oil on canvas
What might be noticed first is the beauty
of the one and the vulgarity of the other.
A woman of vapor issues from the mound
of bodies, just as cooking smoke rises
from the hole left in the top of a shelter
built of sapling poles. The bodies look
abandoned. They seem to exist without
the weight of their pallid bones, a mere heap
of haphazard limbs, felled trees.
This is the inevitable end to the brawl
of soul and body—lovers' separation,
final parting of ways, last crossroad
passed. The rising ghost does not look
back. There is no farewell in the hollow eyes,
and her clasped hands have forgotten
so much. But wasn't this always the case?
Wasn't spirit always just swirling in the body
like the bright glimmer of oil in water?