local_library When Anger is an Idol I Lose

by Cynthia Kraman

Published in Issue No. 122 ~ July, 2007

I wanted God, God wanted me; we played

The azure was a great expanse of bliss

In those hard arms I whimpered with delight

And day shook all my anger out of me

And then the night came at me, sliding close

Where lack of God had left a hermit’s hole

It ate and drank, and made me drink and meat

God smelled of you. The heavy sweat of love

Came endlessly. The kisses were alike.

The grabbing airless hope all had your name

Embroidered on its heaving, emblemed form

The wants were yours, the having and the lack

Stitched evenly in letters spelling: NAUGHT

And others spelling: NIGHT IS LIVING HERE

Now night, now anger, turn me on their spit

Until I see both you and God again

Me praying, me professing, walking, still

Me in the Natural History Museum

A tour guide for postmodern months and years

Me waiting for the message on the screen

To say “FORGIVEN” in a steady light

The Sluts of Delft

The great imaginary spaces that they built

Those painters of the early school of Delft

Made emptiness the deity and placed

A pissing dog, a sucking child and nurse

As emblems of the damned organic life

Like fisheyes at the foot of marble walls

So small, so insignificant, alive

The bad hot girls of Delft had visitors

In small hot rooms made warm by silk and fur

Upon their bluish breasts so lightly flushed

Reflected in the Venus pearls they wear

In each recumbent tender tinted ear.

Their glassy eyes bend silently on space

Their pearly teeth part tenderly in smiles

How often is it inward, this bought flesh

When painted by Vermeer or by de Hooch

Two masters not of light or space or line

But of the flight of what is flesh and love

Into these girls who hold the only hint

Of an imagination filled with more

Than snarling spaniels, hunger, empty space

account_box More About

Cynthia Kraman is the author of three books of poetry including her recently reissued first volume Taking on The Local Color (Wesleyan UP). This year a short memoir of her rock years in Seattle appeared in Open City #23; Prose by Poets, and she was anthologised in Bowery Women Poets. She is also a professor and a medievalist publishing on Chaucer and the Pearl-poet.