Anatomical Angel

By Averill Curdy Averill Curdy

L’ange Anatomique, by Jacques-Fabien Gautier Dagoty, 1746

Unfastened avidly from each ivory button
               of her spine, the voluntary muscles open
virtuosities of red: Cinnabar

                                    the mutagen, and carmine from cochineal
               born between fog and frost, so many little
deaths Buddhists refuse to wear

                                    robes soaked in its thousands. Sunsets
               of other centuries fade in galleries to ash.
Red is fugitive: As the voice, the blow

                                    of gravity along a nerve opening to an ache
               the body can’t unhouse: As the carnation
suffusing cheek and haunch like saucers

                                    from the king’s porcelain rinsed in candlelight.
               Gratuitous as the curl, the urn-shaped torso,
the pensive, brimming gaze of pretty

                                    post-coital thought she half-turns over one
               excavated shoulder. As if to see herself
in a mirror’s savage theater as elegy

                                    to the attempt to fill an exhausted form,
               to learn again the old ordeals of wound
and hand and eye. To find the source of burning.

Source: Poetry (June 2006).


This poem originally appeared in the June 2006 issue of Poetry magazine

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June 2006
 Averill  Curdy


A lyric poet influenced by Donne, Hopkins, Merrill, and Auden, Averill Curdy notes, “In my own work, the aural quality and weight of words is very important and I think it’s partly an attempt to make them feel as material as the smears of color on a painter’s palette.” Her meditative, dense lines are smoothed by time; as Curdy explains, “I write slowly—always, it seems, at the very limit of what I know.”

Curdy began to write . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, The Body

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

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