Louise Nevelson Resurrects the City’s Refuse
to Create the Exhibit Moon Garden + One

1958: New York

Found wood teems on all floors of her brownstone
on Thirtieth, chokes halls and fire escapes,
spills from her tub, festoons her dreams with royal
personages tossing hoops and mallets
in a garden of prickly shrubs. She sleeps
like an iced sea. The filigree of balsa wood glued
in the splintery wine crate
mimics the angles of her three a.m.

shadow as she carts home a hodgepodge of staves,
blocks, scraps, and newels that she snagged, groping
through garbage cans and dumped goods, her gloved hands
wriggling like moles. Dawn, first ration of light,
charged, she snaps off her need for sleep, sweeps
to her workroom. Her mind clocked in,
she tongs wood into troughs of matte black

paint for harmony, scroll-saws plywood
to echo Aztec glyphs, shuffles chair legs,
balusters, slats, and gunstocks. While her son
served on a ship in the war, his letters —
rare and fragmented by the censor’s pen —
chilled her blood. Fearing him dead, she gathered
and used old wood for the first time, and clasps,
velvet, lidded boxes — and moved herself

from the dark. She won’t lid, seal, or shut off
this all-black wall stack — one crate framing dowels
and knobs like finch eggs in a juggler’s pitch hands,
one crate a dark puzzle of cumulus clouds,
one crate a reliquary of fired bone shards.
Each crate gapes like a rectangular mouth
exhaling shadows instead of breath.

Printed from Cerise Press: http://www.cerisepress.com

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