POEM LXIV: “TILDA SWINTON”

For a while in 1995,
you could visit the Serpentine Gallery in London and view
Tilda Swinton asleep in a box.

The installation was such a success they did it again
in Rome
and recently a third time
in New York City.

They never publicize it. Never print a schedule. You just show up,
expecting a nice afternoon of prints and photographs,
and she’s there,
asleep in a box, paralytically still,
her alien features smooth and cool and closed as a stone.

A stone, but still
you get the unsettling feeling that it’s
she who’s watching you
not the other way round.

The installation only really works if it’s Swinton;
if it were Lindsay Lohan or Dennis Rodman or Madonna,
people would come, and stare,
and speculate on the hair! The eyebrows! The subtle chinlift!

But they wouldn’t think.
Tilda Swinton makes you think,
the way a very large and beautiful snake,
draped artfully across your shower rod,
blocking all escape from your tub and blinking at you yellowly,
might make you think.

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