—After Eric Fischl
Back striped black, suit striped white
the wall—just striped; the net—just curved.
Crouched where the light comes from
you see that there is no protection
in the downward curves of the net;
it is only a shroud over one half of the frame.
No comfort in the dark lines on her back
that could be wings; though they dip at the spine
like children's drawings of crows
in a deep blue sky, the lines will not lend
He stands at the precise point where wall
meets wall, at the intersection of another
'V' that's going nowhere. Caught between
net and woman, objects weighing down the frame,
it appears that freedom would lie behind him,
in the empty spaces at his back. But look again—
the stripes on the wall spear him in place;
like X-rays, they pierce his insides.
Those might even be his bones
showing through, those white lines on
His hands are clenched and white. He is looking
this way. Caught, unable to look away,
you slide like light off the window ledge
from where you were peeping. As you fall
you recall her hands bent at the elbows,
convenient handholds you did not take.
As the air rushes past, all is blue, white, blur.
A cocoon of sound. You remember
on the net in the room, caught, a little orange and yellow
that could have been flowers
—After Eric Fischl
lives in: Hyderabad, India
Sridala Swami is a poet, essayist and photographer. Her first collection of poems, A Reluctant Survivor (2007), was published by the Sahitya Akademi/ National Academy of Letters. Swami has written four books for children, published by Pratham Books in 2009 and 2012. She was the 2011 Charles Wallace Writer-in-Residence at the University of Stirling, Scotland, and Fellow of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, 2013.
She writes a poetry workshop column in The Daily O called The Sideways Door and blogs at spaniardintheworks.blogspot.com
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