Sam Taylor

Realism: A Landscape of the Body at Any Longitude

Feel the old bricks, color of burnt crimson,
and the shipyard ruins, windows shattered; sadness
rolls in off the ocean, you can feel it—
the woman in the motel combing out
her hair before sleep, the faucet drip behind her.
Is it inside or outside? Are you the sea?
Are you the broken board churned against the sea wall?
The octopus’ ink? A dying man’s
feverous dreams of his wife on shore?
Are you a city filled with streets that do not end
or sleep? Ah, no, you’re the one in the museum
sitting quietly before that painting,
finding that when you are moved to cry
the tears are not yours. Rather, they appear there
on that other body, the one standing
alone on the pier, in the corner of the frame.
And when you realize then you must be him
some change falls from his pocket (as he tightens up
his shoe), a key slips through the boards;
he looks up shaking at a moonless sky—suddenly
you watch him realize he is you.
And then you both are gone. No one knows
who keeps walking past the a.m.’s blinking reds,
stopping to gaze in a window at a pecan pie,
or who faces the painting of coffee steaming—
the cream cow beside the napkins, Marilyn
on the wall—who thinks it has been this way forever.

Sam Taylor
Realism: A Landscape of the Body at Any Longitude is from Body of the World (Ausable Press, 2005).