Gregory Stenta

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A Dialogue on Egon Schiele’s Painting, Embrace (Lovers II)

In the art book, Schiele looks like he’s eating his wife’s

ear!  Man and wife have their eyes closed; their eyes

shut, perhaps, as they have nowhere else they want

to look.  The editors of the book say of the painting:

“No one is watching or aware of being watched.”

Looking down at them, it’s hard to forget making love

with your eyes open.  In the painting, Schiele is a shade

darker, as though he works in the sun.  His wife is paler,

softer, like dark vanilla ice cream-is Schiele learning

to enjoy his wife beyond “carnally possessing her,”

as the editors in this mélange of “famous” art argue,

or does he recognize as I do that making love is easier

with eyes closed?  Their eyes are closed then,

as they do not want to remember.

Here is love-making on canvas,

an infinite embrace for our eyes.

Schiele had long thoughts; love always ends

with one lover knocking on the door to an empty room.

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Stenta on “A Dialogue…”:

“This particular poem was an exploration of my emotions about two and a half years ago.  The poem does several things in response to Egon Schiele’s ‘Embrace (Lovers II)’: it imagines possible thoughts in Schiele’s mind, and responds to the editors of an art book.  My poem also stands alone as a piece of poetry, as it can be read without the painting.  However, I believe looking at the painting may illuminate the poem, and lend new life to the painting as well.  In short, my poem breathes new life into Schiele’s painting, and the painting has inspired a new piece of art (a poem) in another format.”

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