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  • Change, and: Christiaen Van Couwenbergh’s Rape of a Negress, 1632Musée de Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg
  • Scott Hightower (bio)

CHANGE

And though we “candle” them,no candle is involved. One

of the other students’ carefullymarked eggs hatched on schedule.

A few days later, understandingthat my teacher is ready,

I ask, “And, now, Mrs. Conradt,what will we do with mine?”

Not everyone gets to walkin the jeweled gardenwhere the branchesare laden with clustersof rubies and emeralds …not everyone gets to raise

the carnelian bowlfilled with honey,to raise the bowlof lapis lazulifilled with butter.But everyone [End Page 563]

gets to live in the houseat the end of the road,without lights; the housewhich no one leaves.I have heard it saidthat hats, and torches

are heaped by the door;that everyone’s clothes, there,are made of somber-coloredfeathers. One season,I dug and improvised tombs.

Some were lined withSand. Some with saltThat sparkled when soda capsFilled with rubbing alcoholFlamed the walls with glory.

Many of my favorite smallToys were laid to restand covered. That sameseason, in that mysteriousexpanse before sleep,

I lay in my bed, turningthe notion of a perfect bodyin a dark space without time. [End Page 564]

CHRISTIAEN VAN COUWENBERGH’S RAPE OF A NEGRESS, 1632

Musée de Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg

More than anything I am unprepared foron so many levels. The narrative is only stoppedby the painting itself. We, who gaze, withoutregard whatsoever to our character, are allowedto take our individual place in the scene.

Its duet of “jocular” pale skin and the terrorizedvery dark skinned woman. The two men’s posturesand happy faces indicative of unbridledforce in dominion. Even, the rolling whiteof the bed linen looks deadly. Unnamedto us, her body falling the way so manybaroque bodies fall in the swirl of domes.The way Halmea fought off Hud;a catalog of ensnared women. A verybare room—as bare as any in a Texas Panhandletown—and a page, without a clue as what to do.

His palms both open out and extend up,a spontaneous, yet willful, unsure reachfor the window shade of a worldhosting decency and goodness;

for something beyond privilegeor quarantine, for somethingbeyond rule. Horseman, pass by. [End Page 565]

Scott Hightower

SCOTT HIGHTOWER, professor at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, is the author of four books of poetry in the US and a bilingual collection (Spanish-English) published by Devenir, Madrid. Tartessos, his second bi-lingual collection, is forthcoming from Devenir. His translations from the Spanish have garnered him a Barnstone Translation Prize.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6512
Print ISSN
0161-2492
Pages
pp. 563-565
Launched on MUSE
2016-09-07
Open Access
No
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