Sylvie Baum­gar­tel

The New York Review of Books - - Contents - —Sylvie Baum­gar­tel

Poem

I go to Spain to see where my rules come from. The nuns feed me the soft gray brains of sheep. My brain clenches like a fist.

I am vi­o­lent & sweet.

I like to make things &

I like to break things.

Up the stairs be­fore a man, down af­ter. I please you, I fear you.

This is a jam spoon, this is a honey spoon. Into an el­e­va­tor be­fore a man, speak af­ter. It’s this fork for fish & that fork for cake. I trip over my tongue.

I del­i­cately re­move the egg-yolk or­ange Sta­mens from the Casablanca lilies So the pollen doesn’t fall

Onto the ta­ble cloth and stain it.

I set the ta­ble for tea.

I like dis­ci­pline.

I like Goya’s night­mares.

I have chairs on my head

& chairs com­ing out of my mouth.

Lu­cas Cranach the Elder painted Lu­cre­tia’s shame over & over & over. He showed us Lu­cre­tia with her

Hips cocked, bald pu­bis, old-look­ing face. Poised, hold­ing the dagger about

To pierce her own heart.

The prince who snuck into her room To rape her first awoke her

By gen­tly wash­ing her belly

With warm wa­ter & a cloth.

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