“Following further investigations, including tests in an archaeometry laboratory, it was discovered that layers of binding agent and a layer of dirt existed between the image of Cupid and the overpainting. The conservators concluded that several decades would have passed between the completion of one layer and the addition of the next and therefore concluded that Vermeer could not have painted over the Cupid himself.” Statement issued by the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden, Germany, upon unveiling Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl Reading Letter at a Window’ fully restored to reveal a previously-hidden painting within the background
back-bent dedication lingers
over minutest detail,
flecked upon a scalpel’s edge
scraping back the trauma of decades
and a different generation’s shame
until painstaking years recover, at last,
brightly togged and hopeful:
love’s plum-ripe promise.
Continue reading “Restoration”
Pilots don’t talk.
Pilots only yell.
ROGER TOWER CLEAR TO OPTION OVER – NEGATIVE CONTACT ON VISUAL – SKYHAWK ONE NINER FOXTROT CHARLIE TANGO ON APPROACH
A full year of Saturdays spent in the air, and this is what the girl has learned. (Not that she hadn’t heard yelling before.)
But maybe if the pilot wasn’t wearing an enormous headset. Maybe if she wasn’t wearing earplugs. Maybe if the airplane’s single front propeller wasn’t so loud it makes her tummy queasy and even the drugs her mom makes her swallow each time before takeoff don’t stop the airsickness so finally she starts wearing earplugs as the only thing that lets her fly without vomiting into a bag.
Maybe if the pilot wasn’t her dad.
Or if she had chosen to be here, or could choose to leave.
Even if she could just understand what lesson this weekly punishment with the plane and the shouting and the long silences is meant to teach her—or at least when it will stop, when she will finally be seen as having learned her lesson enough to go home—maybe then she might be learning something more than shouting.
SKYHAWK ONE NINER FOXTROT CHARLIE TANGO
But, she thinks, also maybe not.
Continue reading “Fracture Mechanics”
Don’t tell me I’ve got my facts wrong.
Or fall to the fallacy of Freud, imagining only sons
can threaten a father’s throne, or evoke a mother’s passion.
I know a hero’s plotline when I’m born into one.
The Sphinx first tipped me off.
I had come with a riddle of my own: What is happening
to the babies? My princely brothers each disappearing
as suddenly as he arrived, my mother’s arms empty
as her belly again flat.
“Oracles can be misheard,” the Sphinx said, with a shrug
and rustle of her wings, “or misbelieved. Daughter, son, child who shall—“
She bent to sniff my offering: half a lunchtime pb-and-j
and a handful of goldfish crackers, then lipped one cracker
and crunched it, open-mouthed. “What oracles don’t?
Is misspeak. Gotta listen with the same precision.”
I left her growling happily over my sandwich,
Continue reading “When Oedipus Was a Woman”
lion’s tail curled around her paws like a housecat.
Considered carefully her words. Came to a decision.
Plotted my next moves. A culmination
years in the making.
“He loves power. A terrible love.”
—Euripedes, Iphigenia at Aulis
The day the great king sacrificed his child for favorable winds
in recompense for some gravid deer killed in a sacred grove;
—or perhaps the clean calculus of men with swords already thirsty, still a long voyage to Troy
and wasn’t it her aunt who started this whole mess in the first place
bitch Helen with her dimpled thighs so easily and so widely hinged;
those clustered close at the scaffold’s base would later swear: with dying breath
came not the feared but looked-for curse. Her only words, “I’m sorry.”
Dutiful, claimed royal hangers-on long accustomed to the eldest girl’s
Continue reading “Iphigenia’s Apology”
guilty proclamations. Her contrition for being too loud, too soft
too much, too little
too argumentative, too acquiescent
too beautiful, too plain.
For the unset place when guests arrived unannounced.
For the household’s every unexpressed desire left untended-to.
There is no prince. Know that first.
The tower, you’ll recognize. The witch, too; an inevitability.
A curse of sorts, petty and grousing, with just enough malice to sour the milk from your neighbor’s cow or rot a field of daffodil bulbs before they blanket the spring in yellow. Not the showstopper enchantment needed to freeze a kingdom, of course, or put entire villages to sleep for a year. A small spell. Not enough to make a husband and wife gift away their newborn son—but a girlchild? For that, sure.
Girls are cheap.
Only takes a mingy spell to get you one of those.
Continue reading “Shorn”