Things Impossible to Swallow • poems by Pamela Garvey • number 24 in the 2River Chapbook Series2River

What I Wanted

In response to Francis Bacon's Two Figures

I once painted walls, floors, even ceiling
black. I had sheets so white they shone like a canvas during sex.
They danced and blurred as if into the bodies of lovers
as anonymous as the men in this portrait: features so
hazy they look whitewashed. Are their eyes open? What
does the one man clench with his teeth—rag or rope?—
as the other straddles him, pins him down? Is
that man pinning him down? The brushstrokes shimmy
on this unprimed canvas, the rough side the painter always
chose. I, too, wanted the raw untreated surface.
So everything would soak in: another’s sweat, another’s weight
grinding the body, so high I forgot I lived in it. In the painting,
the arms, they flail so motion is all I can see. Like my past,
nothing is still, even though everything is still.