Two Poems

Poetry / Virginia Konchan

:: Nativity Scene ::

          after Gauguin

Loosened upon a canary divan, 
within a thatched hut

in a village beside the sea,
I have a foothold in consciousness,

yet am possessed by the idea of none.
Thus, ocean breezes.

Thus, the molten purr
of a kitten at my knee.

My wet nurse is near,
with my infant in arms.

Search not, art critic, for the apotheosis
—famine, fire, flood—in this frame.

Painting restorationist, the broken object
in this painting is not my body, it is me.

:: My Body, a Wunderkammer ::

I am at peace with factoids
and the finite world of objects.

Cradling the third law 
of thermodynamics

to my cheek, forehead,
breast, I sleep like

a babe on crack,
purged by the fires

of truth: love lives on
in the Andromeda Galaxy,

supernova of neon desire 
meeting its operational double

on the Cartesian Plane,
liquidated referents

sheltered by the downy fluff
of the imaginary, no more.


From the writer

:: Account ::

“Nativity Scene” and “My Body, a Wunderkammer” openly acknowledge the interferential reality in which we have consciousness and write the other. These poems are excerpted from a larger work featuring women artists who have been written or overwritten by male figures. The female speaker of “Nativity Scene,” for example, speaks to an art critic, then a painting restorationist, advising how the depicted scene and its reconstitution, as an image, should be viewed. These poems oppose Western binaries for effect (subject/object, mind/body, scientific discourse/art) and take place at the intersection of the virtual and actual worlds, logos and image, amid tropes of singularity and doubling. I am interested in deliberately constructed and performative interiors, in the legacy of Ashbery, but also in experimental women’s writing, wherein language, subjectivity, and gender are forms of staging and play. Lastly, I’m drawn to the dilemma of representation and self-alienation. To write is to represent; to represent is to lose the immediacy of self-presence; to publish is to risk entering into an economy of unequal exchange. How can the capaciousness of mind and, for that matter, the body, under these conditions, be portrayed? This question can only be answered by each specific painting, poem, and objective correlative to an immaterial idea whose content (or self) is created as it materializes, in form.


Author of the poetry chapbook Vox Populi (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and a collection of short stories, Anatomical Gift (Noctuary Press, forthcoming), Virginia Konchan’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Best New Poets, The Believer, Boston Review, and The New Republic. Co-founder of Matter, a journal of poetry and political commentary, she lives in Montreal.