Poem After an Iteration of a Painting by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Destroyed by the Artist Herself
A few times a week, Yiadom-Boakye
painstakingly cuts oil paintings she believes
aren’t up to snuff. Instead of re-priming
the canvas, she reduces it to 2 X 2 ½ meter
pieces. She begins again. This isn’t
an ars poetica. Once, I made love in daylight.
It was a Saturday or Sunday in November
or July. My lover and I stumbled toward
the bedroom, turning our mouths
and our stalk-like waists. I don’t remember
if I undressed myself. The edge of the bed felt
precipitous. I’ve forgotten almost everything
about that day except the competing limbs
of kissing, walking, fucking-how confused
my feet were until, at last, they did not
touch the floor. It was my fault, I wanted so
little. This is not a love poem. Not a catalogue
of attempts. Yiadom-Boakye doesn’t set her figures
in time or place. They are composites of photographs,
magazine cut-outs, and the occasional life drawing.
She doesn’t call them portraits. When she scissors
her failures into unmendable bits, she aims
to deter scavengers and thieves.
In the room where I write this, my hands
smell like Ginger Gold apples. For hours,
I’ve been looking out the window—staring
into the hallway we took to my bedroom. I know
the sky is a blue wall. I know the walls
were sky blue. Memory paints them yellow.
I’ll keep this revision. The rest I’ve thrown away.