22 March 2009

Mina Loy

[from Mina Loy's The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1996]

The Effectual Marriage
              or
The Insipid Narrative
              of
Gina and Miovanni

The door was an absurd thing
Yet it was passable
They quotidienly passed through it
It was this shape

Gina and Miovanni             who they were God knows
They knew      it was important to them
This being of who they were
They were themselves
Corporeally        transcendentally        consecutively
conjunctively        and they were quite        complete

In the evening they looked out of their two windows
Miovanni out of his library window
Gina from the kitchen window
From among his pots and pans
Where he so kindly kept her
Where she so wisely busied herself
Pots and Pans        she cooked in them
All sorts of sialagogues
Some say        that happy women are immaterial

So here we might dispense with her
Gina being a female
But she was more than that
Being an incipience        a correlative
an instigation of the reaction of man
From the palpable to the transcendent
Mollescent irritant of his fantasy
Gina had her use        Being useful
contentedly conscious
She flowered in Empyrean
From which no well-mated woman ever returns

Sundays        a warm light in the parlor
From the gritty road          on the white wall
anybody could see it
Shimmered a composite effigy
Madonna         crinolined       a man
hidden beneath her hoop
Ho for the blue and red of her
The silent eyelids of her
The shiny smile of her

Ding dong         said the bell
Miovanni           Gina called
Would it be fitting for you to tell
the time for supper
Pooh        said Miovanni       I am
Outside time and space

Patience said Gina      is an attribute
And she learned      at any hour to offer
The dish         appropriately delectable

What had Miovanni made of his ego
In his library
What had Gina wondered     among the pots and pans
One never asked the other
So they     the wise ones     eat their suppers in peace

Of what their peace consisted
We cannot say
Only that he was magnificently man
She insignificantly a woman who understood
Understanding       what is that
To each     his entity     to others
their idiosyncrasies     to the free expansion
to the annexed     their liberty
To man his work
To woman his love
Succulent meals     and an occasional caress
                    So be it
                                                   It so seldom is

While Miovanni thought alone in the dark
Gina supposed that peeping       she might see
A round light      shining      where his mind was
She never opened the door
Fearing that this might blind her
Or even
That she should see     Nothing at all
So while he thought
She hung out of the window
Watching for falling stars
And when a star fell
She wished       that still
Miovanni would love her to-morrow
And as Miovanni
Never gave any heed to the matter
He did

Gina was a woman
Who wanted everything
To be everything in woman
Everything everyway at once
Diurnally variegate
Miovanni always knew her
She was Gina
Gina who lent monogamy
With her fluctuant aspirations
A changeant consistency
Unexpected intangibilities
Miovanni remained
Monumentally the same
The same Miovanni
If he had become anything else
Gina's world would have been at an end
Gina with no axis to revolve on
Must have dwindled to a full stop

In the mornings she dropped
Cool crystals
Through devotional fingers
Saccharine        for his cup
And marketed
With a Basket
Trimmed with a red flannel flower
When she was lazy
She wrote a poem on the milk bill
The first strophe       Good morning
The second        Good night
Something not too difficult to
Learn by heart

The scrubbed smell of the white-wood table
Greasy cleanliness        of the chopper board
The coloured vegetables
Intuited quality of flour
Crickly sparks of straw-fanned charcoal
Ranged themselves among her audacious happinesses
Pet simplicities of her Universe
Where circles were only round
                                             Having no vices.

     (This narrative halted when I learned that the
house which inspired it was the home of a mad
woman.
                                        -- Forte dei Marmi)

The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems of Mina Loy

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