Painting by Marianne von Werefkin
Who or what holds strings over us,
lifts our arms, crashes
our bodies together?
We move as we must, enjoy
the dance even as we resent
doing it. Perhaps the “real”
marionettes on stage enjoy theirs too—
they come alive, blood circulates,
ideas birth where there had been
only wood. My lover will be
famous, perhaps remembered
like Wateau. When he’s dead,
no one will know what moved his hand
when he would have preferred
to rest. I can’t say what moves
my own hand or why a dark
blue light can wound or delight me–
we keep trying to break
whatever holds us against
our will. Color, a scissors,
almost cutting us free.
“Marionette Theatre” is from an ekphrastic collection of poems that I’m currently working on. Other than the painting that inspired the poem, I think Ingmar Bergman’s film From the Life of Marionettes also had a presence.