DIANE ARBUS

People move spectrally
among columns, each
hung with a photograph.
They pause, look, drift.
 
Darkness shrouds a rueful
couple in Coney Island
but the background glows
as if it’s noon and twilight
 
at the same time.
I’m surprised to see his
face in double image,
drunk and sober
 
at the same time.
I should look at the camera.
I’m fifty-one. My mouth
draws down at the corners. 
 
I’d buy false happiness
if I could. Certain horrors
have become mundane.
My solitary room contains
 
two blue chairs, a door
into language as subject and object.
Nails, bacteria, spite.
The memory of other uses.
 
From my window
I can see the sea,
hear church bells,
a truck engine idling.
 
I won’t go home
until I’ve caught a whale.
I won’t go home
with my hold empty.
 
When I sit still
and close my eyes
I feel the ocean’s rhythm
in my blood.
 
copyright c Karen Schoemer 2016
Karen is the Virginia Scholar for Autumn 2016