Alexander Calder and the Curve of Disillusion

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June 21, 2019 by The Citron Review

by Melanie McGee Bianchi


We were whispering about boys, the few who’d
aced the minute thrust of romance
and the rest — hopeless —

which ones were bound to leave us
and which ones deserved our best leaving

this was before you moved to Red Hook
and floated to older and older lovers —

it was before I married a friend
and had a baby boy
and got the shock of my life.

Years later
we whispered
the worst — you

drew me the line —
what was toxic
what traumatic

we huddled — that was what
rage had done, that was
what shame.

But back then
there was peace: you

worked as a guard
in our small-town museum
you were small

too, and unlikely.

Your Pre-Raphaelite
face, your shy slang,
your painterly lips

pulling it off
pulling it off

A Calder show
was on view: millions of dollars
of mobiles
in darklighted rooms.

You flicked a big
lever and it became an arm,
arcing lazily

and foreverly
(and we whispered)

and the mobile danced a while
and then
drooped, but for that

lone arm swinging

drolly, tenderly, wantonly —
so free you could cry.

When the curator crept in
and saw what was touched
you blushed hard, but you didn’t

say sorry. You went brick and mortar.
You gazed past

your boss, you were smooth,
sullen (art is for everyone)
though so guilty. Yet

nothing was broken, only the moment
undone — your drastic
imperiousness, I wish I had drunk it —

like real life could ever be

little guards
with bad wages

livid men and coming
out unscathed.

It is still important.


Melanie McGee Bianchi grew up with 36 cats but published her first poem (at age 12, in Cricket magazine) about a nonexistent pet salamander. She’s placed work in Asheville Poetry Review and has been a finalist in two national poetry competitions (Black Warrior Review, 2011; Tusculum Review, 2014).

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