A poet and librarian in Hollywood, Michalle Gould contacted us on Twitter to share her poem “I Spit in the Lock and the Knob Turns,” inspired by Gustave Moreau’s watercolor Diomedes Devoured by Horses.
She accepted our invitation to visit the Getty and record her poem for #GettyInspired. (That’s her in the sound booth.)
I Spit in the Lock and the Knob Turns
I spit in the lock and the knob turns.
A wire stretches between two towers,
but is it before the walk, or just after
a person has fallen? In a painting,
a man is devoured by his own horses,
after teaching them to love the taste
of human flesh. I was once told that
being shot feels just like being slapped.
I never felt the needle going in, but now
my jaw aches at the site of the injection.
The artist’s signature is neat in the corner,
impassive to the horror his brush has
depicted; the man’s body surprisingly white
and clean, as if he had turned to statue
when the mares’ jaws clamped down on him.
His blood streaks instead over his violated cloak,
down to where a hoof still tramples it,
a quite delicate pink turning red, like the flesh
of a fish where it is caught up against a wire net.
“A shame,” says the woman behind me.
“It was once such a beautiful piece of fabric.”
Title and first line from Frank O’Hara’s “Meditations in an Emergency.”