Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Inside Serra (Poem)

Richard Serra, Torqued Ellipse
© Richard Serra
Installation at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 1999

Inside Serra

   . . . you always have to find where the boundary is
in relation to the context. . . .
   ~ Richard Serra

You could be polished,
put on a shiny face

but for that alchemical mixing
of oxygen with the elemental,

leaving you earthy and russeted,
uncosseted: more your own style.

Your steely Cor-Ten skin corrodes
itself eating browned orange to amber,

a matte time duly applies
to tone your iron-ored heaviness

as you tilt and sway for emphasis.
I see you for what you are,

a hulking tactile multi-ton torque
shedding one look for another.

That spring at the Dia, a train's ride
out of New York's claustrophobia,

your massiveness moved me
inside your insides. I could

have come unfurled,
climbed your walls curling

and sinuous and closing in
the farther I go in. Your curves

wrap their sinewy rustiness round me,
impressing on me their muscle

meant to make me weigh
the arcs of meaning you achieve

even while standing perfectly still.
Your path takes me deep. Not

till I look up do I get how
the dark and the light work in tandem.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

Richard Serra at Dia:Beacon and Dia:Chelsea

* * * * *

I offer this poem for the One Shot Wednesday event at One Stop Poetry, which each week invites poets to share, read, and comment on each other's work. Be sure to visit the site late Tuesday afternoon and every Wednesday for links to the many contributors' poems.


Glynn said...

Lovely, Maureen.

We have a Serra sculpture in downtown St. Louis that for years was the object of controversy, ridicule and passionate defense -- actually, a war between the two newspapers we had at the time. It sat by itself, inhabited largely by the homeless, until it because the western anchor of a sculpture park. And then it found its place.

S. Etole said...

you have moved me right into the heart of this ...

Mark Kerstetter said...

Your "I see you for what you are" together with your awareness of your evolving presence in conjunction with the Serra sculpture illustrates the rather difficult quotation you have selected.

I saw a collection of site-specific drawings by Serra in a narrow rectangular gallery with a towering ceiling. They were simply very large black squares hanging high up above eye level. The sense of power was extraordinary.

Kathleen Overby said...

Makes me feel what it might be like to be the beating
creature inside a conch shell. What is it about spirals, rust, light? Can we put this one in Neruda's Memoirs- Please ? I really like it. Here's the click. iLike. :)

Claudia said...

wow - impressive artwork and a beautiful capture of it with your words maureen - esp. like the lines..
meant to make me weigh
the arcs of meaning you achieve

Brian Miller said...

a very sensual response to the work...i like that...the feeling in the gut as one looks at it...experiences it...nice one shot.

Seann McCollum said...

I love the Serra piece in question, and am always interested in reading how poets talk about art. That said, this isn't quite working for me. It feels too removed, as if you are writing from outside the piece rather than within it. Keep at it though, you've got a good idea here.

Anonymous said...

poem has a coming home feeling to it, away from the hustle and bustle of the city to wrap ourself aroung a serra, that feels like it's a part of you. Excellent writing Maureen.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for helping me see another side of Serra. Well written.

Beachanny said...

Excellent. I followed the metaphor into and through your heart. We too have one of his sculpture in Fort Worth quite like this outside the new Modern. It reshapes your mindset before entering an extraordinary innerspace inside the museum. I love the building more than its collections and go there often.

hedgewitch said...

More polished and curved than the sculpture it describes, these couplets create their own space and balance. Lovely work.

Violet N. said...

You have really 'got into' this work. I love the way you play with 'rust' - "alchemical mixing / of oxygen with the elemental // leaving you earthy and russeted....corrodes / itself eating browned orange to amber..."

A great read, Maureen!

Louise Gallagher said...

Ooh la la!

This is moving. right into the heart.

Oooh la la!

* said...

"Your path takes me deep. Not

till I look up do I get how
the dark and the light work in tandem."

I like the tension in this (light vs dark), Maureen, how it wraps around Serra (love him!), the tilting away to understand, grasp, and the aha! moment. Well done!!

Ruth said...

I feel the power of this gorgeous piece of art through you and your words, Maureen. My favorite line: I could / have come unfurled . . ., the poet's response deep within herself, within this play with space. Very nice.

Shashidhar Sharma said...

Dear Maureen

Wow!!! Its so lovely.. I enjoyed your words very much... your lines were so perfect...
'your massiveness moved me
inside your insides. I could

have come unfurled,
climbed your walls curling'

Got me thinking on so many levels...

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
Connect me at Twitter @VerseEveryDay

Cheryl Snell said...

Nice ekphrastic pulse in this, although the poem can stand on its own. The close is particularly effective.

Alegria Imperial said...

Sensuous, richly textured, penetrating--I followed each sinuous line with my body and my senses sharply attuned! Excellent poetry, as always from you! Tahnk you!

Kavita said...

The poem really speaks for the beautiful piece of art...
Looking beneath the smooth exterior and discovering all those facets and layers of meaning is an art by itself...
I like how you wrote this from Serra's perspective.. really very impressive!

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

Love this poem, Maureen, as it takes me back to a walk I took through this Sierra work one day a few years ago in Bilbao, hand in hand with my wife and daughters. There was an eerie power to the experience that all of us felt, but none of us could describe or express. Were we wandering aimlessly or being funnelled, as we curled our way inside those imposing curved slabs of rusted metal?

I love the ending: Not / till I look up do I get how / the dark and light work in tandem.

[my earlier try to post this comment crashed, so I am not sure if you are getting this twice; if so delete one]