Remedios Varo’s Locomotion Capilar (1959)

Riding the bicycles of their beards,

wearing wreaths of cloud, they come,

they go, one roping the startled woman

with his rufous anaconda whiskers.

Only she looks at you, her fingers

splayed in surprise,

lifted off the cobbles and balanced by

the birds in the lower right

 

who dive and swoop below the scholars’

(I say scholars) pointed shoes,

in the ochre alley, the angled confinement

of the architecture, a triangle

of dark sky trapped by walls

and an arch. Starless, moonless.

A maze, but the men

are not amazed, their eyes serene,

contemplative, looking out of the frame, inward

 

at nothing, while the fellow in the niche

hoists the only woman, she whose eyes

register fatigue and surprise, she

who’s being lifted

out of the way so the scholars

can turn and turn again unhindered, un-

distracted in the warm angles

of sterility, angles and arcs, and the birds, too,

live in the angles, even

the birds live in the angles.

 

 

 

Ron Smith, Poet Laureate of Virginia 2014–2016, is the author of four books, including Its Ghostly Workshop and The Humility of the Brutes, both from LSU Press. His poems have appeared in The Nation, Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Southern Review, and many other periodicals and anthologies in North America and Europe. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts recently commissioned him to write ekphrastic poems for its 2018 exhibition “The Horse in Ancient Greek Art.”

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