Eileen Tabios

THE AWAKENING

[1]
I forgot the mysterious C___ who slipped syphilis to Vincent Van Gogh—she was a refugee from something unknown thus only imaginable by us: a world of people with hacked-off hands, thus, no paintings to criticize or admire…. I forgot how to perceive the shift of stars without feeling them fade or fall…. I forgot how to feel the Milky Way expand simply because, upon my waist, you placed your palm…. I forgot Tiziano Vecelli’s kindness—refusing to discriminate between daughters, he gave the illegitimate Emilia the same dowry of 700 ducats bestowed upon the legitimate Lavinia…. I forgot when one of a love-making couple is blindfolded, one is a lover and the other a canvas, page, smoke …. I forgot the alley of your city where I stood as a statue frozen by unrequited longing…. I forgot Auguste Rodin drawing women while they took their “melancholy pleasure” in front of him…. I forgot Jackson Pollock teaching the harmony of feelings in riot…. I forgot Arthur Rimbaud who said the bears are dancing but what we had wanted to do was move the stars to pity…. I forgot Pierre-Auguste Renoir who loved the girls of Les Halles for letting their breasts sing soprano above their bodices…. I forgot Paul Cezanne painting furniture to escape naked women about whom, he felt, “One has to be on the defensive.”

[2]
I forgot the mysterious C___ who slipped syphilis to Vincent Van Gogh—she was a refugee from something unknown thus only imaginable by us: a world of people with hacked-off hands, thus, no paintings to criticize or admire…. I forgot how to feel the Milky Way expand simply because, upon my waist, you placed your palm…. I forgot the sense of “walking upon a cloud”—the “calm” that overcame William Carlos William upon hearing the minister bestow a benediction: “May the peace of God which passeth all understanding be and abide with you now and forever more. Amen”…. I forgot Auguste Rodin drawing women while they took their “melancholy pleasure” in front of him…. I forgot Jackson Pollock teaching the harmony of feelings in riot…. I forgot romancing the stars to deflect the mundane, even pre-torture rendition…. I forgot Pierre-Auguste Renoir who loved the girls of Les Halles for letting their breasts sing soprano above their bodices…. I forgot Degas’ great joy at glimpsing through an open doorway a beautiful an anguished woman at her bath…. I forgot Dr. Williams fell in love with a young negress lying stripped on a dissecting table.

[3]
I forgot Michelangelo on his back servicing a syphilitic Christian— for euphemism, cite him  instead painting the Sistine Chapel for Pope Julius II…. I forgot Leonardo Da Vinci dissecting criminals who died with hard-ons to demonstrate the penis is not inflated by the retention of wind…. I forgot Tiziano Vecelli’s kindness—refusing to discriminate between daughters, he gave the illegitimate Emilia the same dowry of 700 ducats bestowed upon the legitimate Lavinia…. I forgot Titian’s prowess: he painted nudes with their eyes open to stare back at you as your eyes memorized powdered their flesh…. I forgot the thief (in Li-Young Lee’s favorite haiku) who stopped in the dangerous night to sing to the beauty of the hovering moon…. I forgot romancing the stars to deflect the mundane, even pre-torture rendition…. I forgot Pierre-Auguste Renoir who loved the girls of Les Halles for letting their breasts sing  soprano above their bodices…. I forgot Paul Cezanne painting furniture to escape naked women about whom, he felt, “One has to be on the defensive”…. I forgot Degas’ great joy at glimpsing through an open doorway a beautiful an anguished woman at her bath.

[4]
I forgot Titian’s prowess: he painted nudes with their eyes open to stare back at you as your eyes memorized powdered their flesh…. I forgot the thief (in Li-Young Lee’s favorite haiku) who stopped in the dangerous night to sing to the beauty of the hovering moon…. I forgot Auguste Rodin drawing women while they took their “melancholy pleasure” in front of him…. I forgot mistaking reproductions for what they copy…. I forgot the anguish of knowledge…. I forgot Jackson Pollock teaching the harmony of feelings in riot…. I forgot Arthur Rimbaud who said the bears are dancing but what we had wanted to do was move the stars to pity…. I forgot Paul Cezanne painting furniture to escape naked women about whom, he felt, “One has to be on the defensive”…. I forgot Degas’ great joy at glimpsing through an open doorway a beautiful an anguished woman at her bath.

[5]
I forgot the mysterious C___ who slipped syphilis to Vincent Van Gogh—she was a refugee from something unknown thus only imaginable by us: a world of people with hacked-off hands, thus, no paintings to criticize or admire…. I forgot how to perceive the shift of stars without feeling them fade or fall…. I forgot Michelangelo on his back servicing a syphilitic Christian— for euphemism, cite him instead painting the Sistine Chapel for Pope Julius II…. I forgot how to feel the Milky Way expand simply because, upon my waist, you placed your palm…. I forgot scientists becoming radical to pursue the ecstasy of Truth…. I forgot Tiziano Vecelli’s kindness—refusing to discriminate between daughters, he gave the illegitimate Emilia the same dowry of 700 ducats bestowed upon the legitimate Lavinia…. I forgot when one of a love-making couple is blindfolded, one is a lover and the other a canvas, page, smoke …. I forgot how to perceive with tenderness…. I forgot the alley of your city where I stood as a statue frozen by unrequited longing…. I forgot Auguste Rodin drawing women while they took their “melancholy pleasure” in front of him.

[6]
I forgot Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni possessed incomparable draftsmanship except as regards breasts, though he was weaned by a daughter and wife of stone masons…. I forgot Michelangelo on his back servicing a syphilitic Christian— for euphemism, cite him instead painting the Sistine Chapel for Pope Julius II…. I forgot how to feel the Milky Way expand simply because, upon my waist, you placed your palm…. I forgot Leonardo Da Vinci dissecting criminals who died with hard-ons to demonstrate the penis is not inflated by the retention of wind…. I forgot Titian’s prowess: he painted nudes with their eyes open to stare back at you as your eyes memorized powdered their flesh…. I forgot how to perceive with tenderness…. I forgot the alley of your city where I stood as a statue frozen by unrequited longing…. I forgot the sense of “walking upon a cloud”—the “calm” that overcame William Carlos William upon hearing the minister bestow a benediction: “May the peace of God which passeth all understanding be and abide with you now and forever more. Amen”…. I forgot the anguish of knowledge…. I forgot Jackson Pollock teaching the harmony of feelings in riot…. I forgot Pierre-Auguste Renoir who loved the girls of Les Halles for letting their breasts sing soprano above their bodices.

[7]
I forgot how to perceive the shift of stars without feeling them fade or fall…. I forgot Michelangelo on his back servicing a syphilitic Christian— for euphemism, cite him instead painting the Sistine Chapel for Pope Julius II…. I forgot Leonardo Da Vinci dissecting criminals who died with hard-ons to demonstrate the penis is not inflated by the retention of wind…. I forgot scientists becoming radical to pursue the ecstasy of Truth…. I forgot when one of a love-making couple is blindfolded, one is a lover and the other a canvas, page, smoke …. I forgot the alley of your city where I stood as a statue frozen by unrequited longing…. I forgot the anguish of knowledge…. I forgot romancing the stars to deflect the mundane, even pre-torture rendition…. I forgot Pierre-Auguste Renoir who loved the girls of Les Halles for letting their breasts sing soprano above their bodices…. I forgot—as did everyone else in the universe—the name of Georges Seurat’s mistress: Madeleine Knobloch.

[8]
I forgot how to perceive the shift of stars without feeling them fade or fall…. I forgot Titian’s prowess: he painted nudes with their eyes open to stare back at you as your eyes memorized powdered their flesh…. I forgot when one of a love-making couple is blindfolded, one is a lover and the other a canvas, page, smoke…. I forgot how to perceive with tenderness…. I forgot the sense of “walking upon a cloud”—the “calm” that overcame William Carlos William upon hearing the minister bestow a benediction: “May the peace of God which passeth all understanding be and abide with you now and forever more. Amen”…. I forgot Auguste Rodin drawing women while they took their “melancholy pleasure” in front of him…. I forgot Arthur Rimbaud who said the bears are dancing but what we had wanted to do was move the stars to pity…. I forgot Pierre-Auguste Renoir who loved the girls of Les Halles for letting their breasts sing soprano above their bodices.

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