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Still life with life trying to sit still.
So many stillnesses here: Of a painting,
of a girl trying to become a painting,
of objects, painted or not...
What's puzzling is how little it puzzles us,
the life in all this stillness,
for how is a painted body any less
an object than a painted mug or table?
Painted girl and painted white mug
are both still, both shaped by light,
shadow, perspective, mass, saturation.
Is painted body to body as painted body
is to painted mug? Or to mug? Or as
painted mug is to mug? (None of the above?)
Much can be said of the motion concealed
in this stillness: how the clustered hands
seem heavy with suppressed fidgets, how light
leads upward to eyes--but see how life
looks at us, not the body (an object, here,
lacking even motion), but life,
how life leaps at us from eyes, orange,
daisys, even from a ceramic mug
(like our bodies, of life's making).
A painted body is nothing like a body
(flat, still, unsoft to touch, etc.), but life
looking back at us from a painted face
is indistinguishable from the life that peers
out of "real" eyes (there, too, a life
that livens when we, life, grant life to it)
or the life I hope can not be unheard
on this page. (This page just said "I hope".
Can a page hope? Can a painted face live?)
Bodies go still and cease to look back at us.
That this painting lives (with our life,
the painter's and the model's) reminds us
the body never owns the life that lights it.
October 6, 2002