“Body-Process: Mark Morrisroe” by Dana Kopel
Author: Poetry Editor
September 30, 2014
This week, a poem by Dana Kopel.
BODY-PROCESS: MARK MORRISROE
Bodies are so beautiful
but remember, nothing is inside them except body.
Remember that, even if you don’t believe it.
The mind is elsewhere
floating, it evaporates slowly, over
the course of a lifetime or sometimes less than that—
not the soul, but the thoughts
of the body, which nonetheless hover above it.
Beautiful, the negatives layered
so the light splits, makes a grain
softer than his ripped skin (scar-rays bloom from the nipple)
the soft indefinite edge of the body
against the ground behind it: floral wallpaper
or the mirror, so the self
becomes the ground behind the self
Remember the bodies when they are young perfect blurry, it takes him
just two negatives
to capture the body’s evaporation into space—
and look, the hazy image of an ant
tacked with a pin to the wall—
didn’t you think so, even at the end
with the wasting disease? You thought so,
your body was a smooth pale egg
with smooth pale leg bones tucked into itself
and your feet were so large
because they were the last to disappear.
Did you keep your thoughts in your feet then, just before dying?
Did you layer the negatives, the bodies, knowing everything, forgetting
but their beauty?
bathe them in chemical baths,
let them become something permanent
and separate from touch, did you wonder
how someone’s touch could bear the body’s whole disintegration?
Yours? You held death in your body like a kernel or pearl,
building layers upon itself, not a bullet
lodged in the spine but like it.
Still you could not take a picture of it.
The one-colored light of those pictures—
the ones inside your body went beyond it,
the kernel grew with the layers of your dying.
the sharp male hip, dense rose light
After the Laone (In the Home
of a London Rubber Fetishist, December 82)
your notes, your sharp bent elbow,
the two sharp points at the base of your spine
your sharpness—your body grew sharper
as it evaporated, it had angles instead of strength
and instead of weakness; your body was a piece of paper
held between two negatives
when the chemicals came to develop
when the chemicals came to wash clean
Dress up again like a woman for me
You’re a kid again in the bathroom mirror, your bare new chest—
DANA KOPEL is a curator, writer and poet based in New York. She was an Assistant Curator for the Maldives Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale, and has organized or assisted on exhibitions at TEMP Art Space (NY), Kunsthal KAdE (Amersfoort, NL), and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson. Her writing has been published in the Brooklyn Rail and Keep This Bag Away From Children, among other publications.