Caravaggio’s Dark-Haired Girl, Terreson

Judith Nelson, Installation 1970

Caravaggio’s Dark-Haired Girl


I do answer to the way some women walk.
Not that I can explain the reason to
a jury of my peers, or to twelve
randomly good citizens.

She can be a woman. She can be a girl.
Hers can be the medial moment when she knows
she is the station departing, arriving between
two destinations,
barely separated, our lowlands and her backlight hills.

It can also be a city street where I’ve seen her.
It has.
And it can be a deep-hinter, narrow black road
between oceans of corn or cotton. It has.
Or the scene can be that most dangerous place.
The interior space of some good citizen’s home.
There too I notice the walk of certain women
whose feet neither slap, flat or negotiate the floor;
they just pull the moment into their bodies like ground swell.

I can’t explain the thing. I only know
I’ve seen the pigments of the scene
too many times to deny a certain woman walks about.

A neighbor girl brings out these notes and reflections.
The self-owning in how she slants her head to all on-comers.
The way she seeds her body made of more earth than air.
How her feet take to concrete just like
cougar girl who takes deliberate step on forest floor.
And this: her eyes darker than what she tells
to her lover on their apartment doorstep.

A hooker by trade maybe. She might figure
business is best kept untouched at home.

Cousin crow in hackberry tree says he knows
the print of those footsteps too.
He just tocks and chortles.


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