Matthew Gavin Frank

Painting by Ulvi Liegi (Luigi Levi)

We are not what we isolate
like the foot inside a street
the tongue inside a Starling

the brain, a salad overdressed
showing the first sign of rust
at the ribs, the opaque skeps

that to bees
are straw

That one, behind us.  Yours
isolating mine under
and under, the mouth

shuffling down beneath the sex
each snore, each smooth
straightaway, each spring

stands alone like new murder,
belly of hydrangea, belly
of all injustice,

the eye isolating itself
from its twin, and the throat
a backroad where sun isolates

its gravel.  No: our love
is smeared senseless, right?
The accordion is dead, right,

some Venus and the ironed
dirge-light, the lemon flies
higher than its tree, once

in infancy, thirteen lift-offs
in my dream tonight, a healthy
shutting of the mouth

when a grandmother covers
her eyes with her hands
all morning, and promises

that all she's seen is still
and still alive.






This poem is part of a series I've been working on that engages Italian-Jewish art and artists. My interest in such an engagement began due to not only my ancestral origins, but my obsession with food and the serendipitous spilling of a bottle of marinara sauce over a blob of my wife's gefilte fish. Also: as I worked on "After Piazza San Gallo..," I had this picture of my late grandmother in my head, informing me with pink lipstick: