Gautam Verma


Balthus: Nude in Profile, 1973

And it was almost a girl who, stepping from
this single harmony of song and lyre,
appeared to me through her diaphanous form
  – Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus I,2

lit from within this torturous:
translucence of skin   surface   
      you cannot touch you cannot take
      your eyes  from
limned and liminal
  (something's given
    something withdrawn  
poised there posed
and composed 
(line through
her back firm
to bare feet 
on the floor) 
the towel she holds 
before her of an O
indescribable color 
an offering or 
a question
  a girl,



The Arrest, or how they appear to us...
  from the image-stream
from photographs, this:
our wedding day (37
years they’ve spent
sloughing theirs off) late
afternoon and the successions
of smiles given way
to an almost non-face
  the photographer wrests
tired too but smooth  
(The air of a face is indescribable
(wrinkle-free at their age!)    
– Roland Barthes
to where (with what
thoughts) have they
  the arrested gaze  
to be held in place
(was ever this once
even) – here –
no more
  without rejoinder  
    and times
    and so I saw them caught
  quite impossible         between two worlds
to bead words on the string   simultaneously inactual and in-
to knot the string round   actuality waiting to die and
the neck of the page   already dead