Colleen Abel: Elegy Written Beforehand (after Francis Bacon)

No one has died yet.
            Or, not the man and the woman
 who walk through the Garden

of Remembrance, with its
            hyacinths legion in the new
spring, bronze swans lifting off

paused in air. But the couple
            has not come
for this. They have come

to see the artist’s studio,
            the one recreated,
mess-wild, in the museum—

sheaves of paper on the floor
            he tore from books:
photos of wars, Muybridge’s horses.

Only Plexiglass kept the two
            from entering, the man’s hands
pressed to it as they looked in.

It’s like that, she thinks,
            all those hundreds
of brushes, tins of paint, newspapers,

boxes, dust. Something, someday
            will make it cohere: the canvas
suddenly soaked, the rictal faces


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