Cover Me with Turtles (after Amy Cutler*)

1.
Fall into the cracks
Where elephant trunks are useful.

Where patterns open at the seams,
Revealing nakedness.

Where to finish is a process of picking fruit.
And big, round, yellow orbs fall

But don’t squish and squirt
Because you made them all up.

Cheer for the death of the imagination
and the moment where reality bleeds enough.

Make a sign. Take it down to Wall Street.
Make sure all the letters fit on the cardboard.

2.
Empty your pockets.
Sew a dress for me.
Long, blue, elegant—
I will wear a crown
and frown in glory.
It’s not floating heads,
but the drooping skins of creatures
once upon a time fierce.

Charge up a mountain
and then call down one last time
So that I can see you
before it’s over and my shame
Has eaten up what’s left.

Is that an instrument for making music?
Or do you carry it for style?
This world still has plants,
and there is no mayor;
No one to declare me wrong.

3.
Hold your own head in your lap.
Place it on the floor and use it as a footstool.
Attach my living bust to the front of your
Fishing boat and
I will drag a net into the sea for you.
Sleep next to me.
Cover me with turtles.

4.
We declared our independence

last night

in front of a small crowd.

Later, we drank,

tired, and became sad again.

5.
You are ageless
in your beginnings:
black and white like text,
or some perceptions of science.
You hug a snowman,
but don’t show feeling.
Not much, anyway.
I wish my lines
were more intricate;
tricky; time consuming.
I wish my thoughts
could marry yours,
but we’re working
Next to one another
and we can’t see in.
(I’m thankful for this.)

Stop reminding me
of other things.
Just let me stay
here in the spaces
that create nothing
from my memory.
Don’t make me angry;
you pulled my braids.
You once drew me
sitting on a hill
with an expression
that seemed thoughtful,
but was probably
more insecure.
I held an inner slice—
You scowled and
grasped both ends.
Apple head, where’re
your brain guts?
What are those ears for?
Oh! how your patterns
compliment each other
so exquisitely!
And you, of course.

I’m not the footrest,
but something
Underneath that.
Squid legs
incapacitate me.
Hold my hand.
Sew me into existence
when you’re done
doing you.
Anchor me.
Plant a redwood
Forest in my chest,
above my breasts.
I will tilt my
head back
to make room
for the trees
to grow.

You make me laugh
when you rub
your eyes like that.
Floating without water,
with a life vest
And a raft—
saved before
there was any
real danger of drowning,
like Danielle before the towers fell.

Huddle like Forti,
only backwards.
Can you do it?

Score me a river and bundle up
until only the top of your head
peeks through.
                           Eyes open,
but still you wear that expressionless stare.
Frumpy face, put your shoes on,
you’re embarrassing me.



*Inspired by “Amy Cutler: Acquainted” at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, September 15 – November 5, 2011, as well as by the artist’s monograph Amy Cutler: Turtle Fur (published by Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2011).

Contributor

Patricia Milder

PATRICIA MILDER is an art and performance writer based in Brooklyn. She was a former Managing Art Editor at the Brooklyn Rail.

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