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The Limitations of Form

- After Michelangelo Antonioni's BLOWUUP


What we know about form
we keep governed with limitations,
so experience assumes only a certain
range of shapes, beyond which
it becomes desire - boneless,
creaseless, like the formation
of an idea. A man and a woman
walk through a park as though it is a poem.
He holds her at the elbows, and looks
as if he would like to do violence
to her, or to anyone. She might be used
as a definition for the word grave:
her cheeks are high and white
as a limestone cliff; her small mouth
opens and closes like an oiled hinge.
Their breaths are ornaments
that kiss and disappear. The whole
tableau is entirely contained
as if this kind of still life could exist
beyond the moment of its framing,
as if his grip might stage the birch
windbreak, the orioles, the white grass
in a mannered forever to rival heaven.
Then, a signal from somewhere else -
the dry, elastic cough of a tennis ball,
and two anonymous hands swinging
wooden racquets back and forth -
shatters formality. He lets her go,
and they split apart easily, as erratic thwacks
from the gravel court echo through their bodies.
The unseen players assemble and fracture
in the mind - form and its limitations -
and the brief November air thickens
with the imprint of their movements. The man
stalks off in one direction; the woman
in another. This time it is a clean break -
careless, and literary - while, in the underbrush,
a rough, textured stretch of grass sharpens
into the shape of a body. And still the sound
of a ball being hit over and over where
there is no ball present. Though it is not
a myth, there is a lesson in all this. Look.
It has to do with visibility and with truth.

 

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  • The Limitations of Form