She gathered up what rags were left,
what discards she imagined
she could fool us into thinking she had
searched the world to find –
those correlative objectives
(she liked inverting Eliot’s phrase)
that might suggest some ways in which
her mind was odd and wonderful.
Is this performance art? What isn’t?
She knew her tattered scraps
were woebegone, their colors either
garish or too dirty to be anything but grey,
their conditions so beyond resuscitation
she would have to put them on
in such bewildering profusion
that our blank confusion at the mix
would keep us just sufficiently at bay
to think that maybe what she wore
she had intended to convey
the existential meanings of the trash,
the vast morass of life. After all, the point
of art was posing through that strife.
Supposing, if against the odds, that she
could sway us to believing that her
mission served her gods – that we owed
her, anyway, at least a nod of serious
attention and respect, perhaps she could
succeed in her desired effect.
After all, the point of art was pose,
to put on shows with tatters, untied bows
and unexpected glows. And there
were glows. We hadn’t banked on those.