© 2011 Katherine Williams
"Blueaille" appears in
City of the Big Shoulders
University of Iowa Press (2012)
Ryan van Cleave, Ed.
Brilliant, how you lure cotingas into the shabby
seaside lodgings of your untraveled memory:
in their cages, fashion operettas of the mundane.

   libretti   bubble pipes   cat-bones   compasses   

of the life devoted to your invalid brother,
make a world of ten thousand exquisite things.
Be the Ulysses of the tethered ankle.

   ticket stubs   indigo silk   paper birds   telescope-lenses   

Let others found their dynasties, paint portraits
in lapis: yours will be the seeds
falling on the bluest peninsulas.

   French menus   oaken spheres   mouse fuzz   gyroscopes   

Let your grimy little street’s smoggy days
turn cerulean, and your moonless night’
wild auroras burn green and purple.

   lithographed children   mirrors   butterflies   piston rings   

Your room will be the most flat nook on the Seine,
your companions the physicists and ballerinas
of Europe, your conversations the most daring.

   balsa propellers   goblets   seashells   DC circuits   

We can almost hear the music box’s tiny marimba,
the pop and hiss of vinyl enshrining a tenor
in a cobalt enamel gramophone.

   glass actresses   Codd marbles   feathers   clock-springs   

When the future crowds around
your impeccably dilapidated steamer trunk,
blue light will emanate as it yawns open.

Blueaille, you called it.

(after The Joseph Cornell collection at the Art Institute of Chicago)