Self-Portrait as Winged Victory of Samothrace

Vivien Song

Lately, I have been searching 

             for bodies that    swell        pregnant

                          with brine. In the Louvre,

                   I touch marble

blistering on doorways: one unending gaze

                                      flung against history’s frame. Small

             disasters. How long before I find the remains

      of cities I left

                                   to grief?      Only netting

                           in my hands, too quickly    stitched   to

stillness.   I have seen the dream              where I stand 

                                                    atop a ship’s hull —

        what it is to play

          the captain of a flooded land,    harpooning

the faces of grandparents I have

                                                                 never met. Around me,

                                                    statues shaped

                                      by foreign hands. For eight years,

I busied myself in the endless

                    walkways of the West, each exhibit    crashing

     into the next,    learned to         forget the aching

                                                                 of these gilded


                              In a different country,         I do not drown

    myself        in the sea’s embrace.        My   name

                 hurled     to the wind.                             An anchor caught

on this broken hull,    obliterated by light.           See how the tides

            erode            each unspectacular

                                                         victory, how I always

                                    return      to  fistfuls of foam.



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