This poem is a response to a portrait of the artist Marcel Duchamp by Florine Stettheimer. All Stettheimer paints is Duchamp's head which is completely bald and glows from the canvas in an intense and eerie manner. It belongs to the same sequence of poems as my experimental translation of Rilke's Orpheus poem and here it is Eurydice that speaks as she sees Orpheus turn back towards her.

The Bachelor Stripped Bare by his Brides, Even

If I place my eye to the peep-
hole in this rock, I can just
make out his head staring
back at me from the borders
of the morning. Light
suspends it, blinds me
as I again unpack the shadows.
Who would have gone with him?
In order to descend that never
ending staircase and pass
through the smallest crevice
he planed his limbs so they could be
closer to me at every moment.
He shed beauty like a snake,
skinned his retina so no pleasure
could take root. Infra-
thin rouge on lips was all
that told me he was there.
That and his suitcase…
an album with his latest
songs perhaps or space
for me … It was touching
if I could still be touched.
But I was an idea now
and when he turned to me,
wrapped in his coat,
it was just to share the thought
that two blue thread floating
from his sleeve could help
him measure chance.
What was he thinking?
I turned away, back
into the diagram of caverns.
Still, I see that head
in my mind’s eye,
like a bicycle wheel
attached to a stool
spinning out the same
song, same thread,
same net. I raise
up my arms and slip
nothing on.

unpublished, © David Kinloch 2016, from In Search of Dustie-Fute (forthcoming Carcanet, 2017)

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