de Kooning's Woman I

from From Scratch, Black Sparrow Press, 1998.

is the first in a series, probably not
in de Kooning's sense of it primal woman or
first-earliest-woman, but these facets may have been
on his mind, for we have here a series or "ones,"
a sacrificed and dismembered "goddess,"
a kind of North American Coyolxauhqui
whose circular Stone was discovered at the foot of the Great
Temple stairway,
as well as Madonna and Child,
the Child at once just born and maybe four,
he is bald and white, is the Madonna's left shoulder and arm,
staring at Her, perched on what appears to be
Her ruddy left thigh, which
on closer inspection might also be
the rump of a flat-snouted or headless animal
lunging to the right, whose back and legs are Her lap and legs,
lunging into the shredding legs of the figure who uses
the Madonna's right shoulder and arm as his breast and stomach
(which is also a red-gartered, chubby, severed thigh)-
he has long, loosely-tied hair, or is "he" a widwife
with face hair-a pirate? sniffing
or whispering to the Madonna's right temple?
His breast-stomach is also his right arm
swinging under the Madonna's haltered and huge right breast,
and out of his splitting hand
another hand emerges from which
shears protrude cutting the Child's umbilicus?
Or is a castration under way?

All this action is simultaneously
splintered and frozen,
once we see the Child, the animal, and pirate-midwife,
there's not much left of Woman I, or
let's say she's in sacrificial drag,
all but her head and breasts are others
masquerading as her body parts,
she is a crowned tripod of wedge-head and dome-shielded breasts,
dismembered and whole? or have her body parts been stuffed into
new roles?
Over-sized Mesopotamian eyes, hypnotic,
teeth like a porticullisbeaver-set into her face,
the gaze of one who has been blasted,
the left eye straight ahead,
as wide open animal jaws howl at her earless head,
the right eye more inward, averted,
reflecting on what pirate-midwife is hissing-

to her left, beyond the Child,
a sketchy, wraith-like creature, at attention,
facing her, seems to be tooting or snout-firing into her face,
or is he vying for her attention with pirate-midwife?
She whose body is her retinue,
She who is slaughtered
at the beginning of time, sets time in motion,
whose crate-shaped upper body
contains, like huge pods, food for those
putting on her body,
it is hideous,
and magnificent,
cut off her head,
which was left abandoned
on the slopes of Coatepetl.
The body of Coyolxauhqui
went rolling down
as it fell, dismembered,
in different places fell her hands,
her legs, her body..."