The Raft of the Medusa by Beverly Rycroft

A painting by Théodore Géricault

– From A Private Audience

At fifty-six I know –
better than I did
at twenty-three –
how desperation can widen
in a whiplash.
How it can thicken
from trickle to ocean,
leave you clinging to
the raft of your own
splintered body.

At twenty-three,
I stood in front
of that vast canvas
at the Louvre
and flinched.

I knew little, then,
of wreckage or decay.
I gazed at that painting
and could not look away,
while the future considered me
from across the marble floor.


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