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.