On viewing Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled (Portrait of Ross in LA)” 1991
Remembrance is no solitary art.
So this is Ross, this multicolored mound
of candies in a heap against the wall,
to serve the curious, who cross the room
where, swindled by the promise of a sweet
distraction, as they kneel to choose a piece
then rise to peel the cellophane away,
they mimic the devotion of a prayer,
dismantling his body absently.
Whoever reads the card can understand
the sad and strange communion they have had.
But from all hands, the empty wrappers fall,
and sounds of crinkling plastic overwhelm
impatient crunches and astonished gasps,
like beetles clearing flesh from silent bone.
It’s what you’d hope the one you love would do
when you have no more spirit left to stand—
collect you in the corner of a room,
to brace the fading traces of your form—
prolong, somehow—unable to forestall
the brief, indifferent sweetness of release.
Thomas March’s recent poetry has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, The Account, The Common Online, Confrontation, Pleiades, and RHINO. His poetry column, “Appreciations,” appears regularly in Lambda Literary Review and seeks to promote new poetry by offering close readings of poems from recent collections. He is a past winner of the Norma Millay Ellis Fellowship, awarded by the Millay Colony for the Arts, and he has received an Artist Grant from the Vermont Studio Center. A member of the National Book Critics Circle, he has also reviewed for American Book Review, The Believer, and New Letters, among others. Learn and read more at www.thomasmarch.org.
This poem appeared in RHINO.