Kiki Smith, Mother, 1991
Madonna of the Wall
A paper-maiched, tendrilled muse of droop and slop, I know something
about string and the cartography of a neuron. About on-goingness.
My song is a crone's rant about the body as arrival and departure.
The torque of my shoulder to breast is the story of how sky
was born to guide wanderer or warrior.
I know too the pliant scent of fontanel -- small gate open to womb
or stone -- a place of origin, like the cave of rivulet and moss. A place of exodus.
In piled puddles of hair, read: milk of Madonna, Medusa or Medea.
I am them. Their years are my years, crinkled like old seaweed.
I know drowned children, what they wonder as water fills chest and lung,
what bad ask their eyes, their gaze mapping death, turning us to stone.
This is my lexicon of slop and droop, its spew dousing the heart's thicket.
My parchment skin loosens.
Last felt touch is breath against air.