After Sebastião Salgado
How can she be beautiful? Eyes, ribs, the slope
and angle of bone. The flesh itself is finished,
so close it's come to the end
of hunger, a husk set aside, tied shut
at the knees and ankles. Thumbs hooked
with clean white cord. What used to be.
Famine in the Sahel, the eyes blown out.
She graces and wrecks the gallery walls
with her vanishing. Her lips dark with flies.
A man stubs out his cigarette.
* * *
And yet the earth's haunches, its flanks of sand.
Devious leaves and riverbeds, the pungent stars.
Something petalled and lush near the stone tomb
where her eyes may yet open.
Swept clean. Someone has left a plate of salt fish
and wine. This is arousal--how things live sometimes
beyond great hurt. Elastic beauty. The lunatic flesh.