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Sequestrienne

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Don't look at me
for answers. Who am I but
a sobriquet,
a teeth-grinder,
grinder of color,
and vanishing point?

There was a time
of middle distance, unforgettable,
a sort of lace-cut
flame-green filament
to ravish my
skin-tight eyes.

I take that back—
it was forgettable but not
entirely if you
consider my
heavenly bodies . . .
I loved them so.

Heaven's motes sift
to salt-white—paint is ground
to silence; and I,
I am bound, unquiet,
a shade of blue
in the studio.

If it isn't too late
let me waste one day away
from my history.
Let me see without
looking inside
at broken glass.

Source: Poetry

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2002 issue of Poetry magazine

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Sequestrienne

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  • Artist and writer Dorothea Tanning grew up in Galesburg, Illinois, and spent almost 30 years living in Paris, before moving to New York City. Tanning started writing poetry in her late ’80s, and her work was subsequently published in the Yale Review, the New Yorker, Poetry, and the New Republic. Her first collection of poems, A Table of Content, was published in 2004.
    The epigraph to A Table of Content comments that “it’s hard to be always the same person.” Tanning’s poems have been described as “collages, softly surreal, delicately personal” by Louis McKee of Library Journal.
    Tanning was associated with surrealism early in her career; she was married to the artist Max Ernst and was acquainted with Man Ray, George Balanchine, Truman Capote, Virgil Thompson, and Igor Stravinsky. Her artistic accomplishments included painting, printmaking, sculpture, set design, and costume design, and her work was exhibited in the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan...

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