Emerging from Matter

by Keith Jarrett

Psalms 22:14: ‘I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.’

          I GIVE THANKS

For the following, as listed:
fragment of a god (unnamed);
fragment of a frieze;
a sketch of a figure of a head from a frieze;
a horse head, chariot-less;
a complex rendering of a myth, in parts:
(let’s say: a lapith, wrestling
a drunken centaur rapist at a wedding);
a youthful Hercules with a bow and lion skin
(plump cheeks held up by a ledge,
spreading through centuries of retelling);
a south-facing foot from a metope;
a cacophony of numbered limbs,
laid out like xylophone bones;  
a row of ancient stones, speaking in the tension
of their bodies twisting.

Listen.

 

           II GIVE THANKS

to he who has fashioned the man with the key,
with loose-jointed arms,

give thanks for the man of vague
gestures, a vogue dancer
in the midst of gods, satyrs
and other miscellaneous torsos

Give thanks to the palimpsestuous
renderings of the artist Rodin, part-prophet part-crazed–

Praise be to the transcendent treasures
from which he unearths new songs!
Skin scraped clean of their original cultural meanings
by time’s savage ravaging
These time-torn fragments now repositioned to face Bloomsbury
Praise be to the paint-peeled, colour-erased sculptures
The deities never-before intended for eye-level
now banished to the ground, and made to stand among men
The men and beasts designed to decorate each frieze
now sketched and sketched again
Hear them speak:

I turn towards the temple and smile (says one)
I turn towards Rome and spit (says one)
I turn towards home and [run/yearn] (says one)

 

          III GIVE THANKS

For this cluttering of torsos:
Torso of the failing man with broken nose
Torso of the slave in warrior pose
Torso of the messenger god
Torso of the river god, the winged thing,
the censored sex
the vexed, the impotent
torso of the indignant revisionist
torso of the broken taxonomist
torso with swiping fingers,
the Tindr dater,
placed in impossible positions
torso of the Brexit negotiator
in limbless limbo
Torso of the fast-fading empire
Of diminishing stature
Torso of the white marble fragility
Torso of the toxic masculinity
Caressing its hollow shoulder joints
Weeping translucent tears

 

          IV GIVE THANKS

Give thanks now
To this head borne out of stone
Thought emerging from matter
Becoming Thought alone
An idea truncated.
A rough-hewn block
Into which all protégés, all lovers sink
She is drowning, not daydreaming
In her Parisian studio
Clawing, rasping and returning
She is a body learning to entomb itself.

I, too, have made gods of men, she says
I, too, have carved hell’s gates with marble kisses, she says
I negotiate artist and muse and mistress
she says.

She turns towards the artist she loves
She turns towards her home and laughs
She turns away from her image and runs.

          V GIVE THANKS epilogue

All life is fragmentary. Limbless, we rise
Headless we rove
Cased in clay and found in bronze
Distressed stone makes blood of our song
We become sketches of gods