Gemma Ward backstage at Alexander McQueen, spring/summer 2005
photographed by Anne Deniau
William Merritt Chase, Peonies, c. 1897
The one who begins this poem won’t be the same
As the one who will end it. Already
Fifteen minutes have passed since I wrote those lines.
I take my shirt off. The day is getting warm.
Yesterday I learned two words: Geheim, which is German
For secret. Temem, which is Arabic
For plenitude. In a few hours a hundred million people
Who do not speak the same language
Will gaze at the last eclipse of the millennium. Bonheur,
what a beautiful word when formed by the mouth
Of a French Buddhist. Didn’t I tell you words
Should be emptied like a vessel, didn’t I tell you I loved
Schroedinger’s cat. Kept for days in a closed box
The cat can either live or die, but until we look
It is neither dead nor alive. Next question. Ask me what light
Feels like, at the instant when it falls. The one
Who ends this poem is not the same as the one
Who will stand accused and be forced to deny it.
Can sorrow be weighed in gravitons? Is fear genetic?
Does the soul know it exists? Does it echolocate its way
In this world, looking for an exit? The inferno that we form
by being together. ’ Calvino. I use these words
To keep from looking away, ensorcelled by the radiantly
Mortal, but with zero yearning. X = wonder,
Vivid under the spell’s recurring question: Peut-on
Naitre-mourir? Lust kills joy
Instantly: half glass fully empty. Diamond cusp,
Be beautiful, brief, and blinding.
Concours d’élégance au Trocadéro, Paris, 1939 (Roger Schall)
Champs de Mars, Paris Exposition Universelle c. 1889. Scan via Historic Photos of Paris by Rebecca Schall
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