Theorem of Sorts

We admire adults for not acting like children, 
meaning we don’t have to clean up after them, 
while we spend at least half of a life trying 
to find ways to exceed the edges 
of shapes that cannot be found. 

At the dinner table he brings up the guy 
who “does these beautiful magical dioramas,”
micro-grated Parmesan cheese dangling
from the dinged edge of a bowl covered in oil. 

Later that week folding pages at the art school 
keeps us occupied. Notes are taken and much is said
while repetition begins fielding itself.
What kind of bird chirps potato chips?

Here the most common sightings are of 
American goldfinches and cardinals, 
migratory and nonmigratory respectively, 
the latter mostly male and so territorial 
they’ll attack their own reflection on occasion. 

You won’t find the difference between a peaceful being 
and being peaceful on 
Other approaches are requisite, body scans. 
If your heartbeat can’t be found under the medical gown
the shutdown’s become emotional for you.

This is the likely end to a year we want
to forget or the one forgetting itself as it is coming 
to an end. Except that it isn’t, ongoingness
has its way of “keeping on keeping on,” not even 
when it all stops, since the so-called ending folds itself
into the ever-developing story, begging the question, 
is it airless, the POV? Who sees the narrator?
Is this relatable and on whose terms? 

The proposal involves switching mediums. 
I will play a faculty member at the art school 
on whose faculty I am serving, folding
myself as a fictional character into a true story.  

In the vicinity, the charm of hummingbirds, 
murder of crows, and identity taxation. 

Repetition fielding itself again, reading 
against icons. A flexible field trip to nowhere. 

When one painter speaks to another painter, I know 
that to be fully in this won’t ever be available to me either, 
since none of us are exhibitionists.

The poem speaks in signs and the painting 
on velvet sucks the light out of the room, 
yet somehow we manage to communicate.

As for the empty speech bubbles on the walls,
they display a variety of shapes, all very talkative. 

Copyright © 2023 by Mónica de la Torre. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 19, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.