stayedwith / by Laura Kochman

I have a tendency to return, to stay. A while back, I had an internship at an art gallery in Boston, white-walled and bright, and it was my job to either open or close the space. I spent a lot of time there alone looking and thinking, and I can still remember the space and the art exactly as it was. One of my favorites was a series of photographs from a nudist colony, and then there was the video installation, three screens of staggered lightning flashes in a small, dark room. When I arrived in the morning, I'd slip between two of the temporary walls to press the blue button on the DVD player, the very ordinary moment that made the whole thing go.

It's a different experience to live with art than to visit it quickly. I try to create some sense of that in long poems, and I hope that a reader will take up residence. So here are some of the things that I live with and look at every day.

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The painting is by my Bubbe; the pen-and-ink cats are by me at 16; and the faceless woman (mixed media) is from an unknown artist. The painting was a kind of inheritance; the drawing I made for myself, slow and careful; the faceless woman I fought for at an auction because the shape of her blank face reminds me of my mother. That shape the open doorway.

Another painting by Bubbe, all landscape and overlap.

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She let the canvas through in a lot of these, and they feel quick, light, even when they're dark. In places this one has bruised. It's the kind of thing you notice when you look over and over again.

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