Whether we write, paint, sculpt, or design, we create art. Once we have finished out work, we admire it before stepping away, but how do our creations react in the end? Annie Tran’s poem, “Something Amiss,” is a narration through the eyes of a sculpture that recollects its experiences with its maker.
The speaker remembers how its artist/creator brought him to life, “chiseling flesh from stone.” The artist touches his work gently when he needs to but chisels forcibly when he sees something missing. The speaker is at its creator’s complete mercy and simply stands as its creator “digs his fingers” into its “eye sockets” and as pieces of the sculpture “fell away to his imagination.” The speaker repeatedly addresses the artist, wanting to say hello when it is up for display in some outside venue, but the speaker’s words do not reach the artist. Its only companions are the wind that “carries his thought away” and the “candy wrappers shining like dimes” between its fingers. Tran’s poem demonstrates that moment of separation between the artist and the work after its completion, and the last stanza heartbreakingly sets the scene where the artist lets his sculpture go without a care while the speaker stands alone.
Tran uses sharp imagery and concrete details to show the effort of an artist, which consists of both mind and body. She captures how much imagination and physical touch artists pour into their work, and the work does indeed become a life of its own. Like with any child or creation, there is a point when the parent needs to let go, but Tran twists this perspective. The artist is willing to move on from the piece, but the sculpture, chiseled from the soul of his creator, is not quite ready to let go. It yearns for the connection with its maker.
“Something Amiss” beautifully reminds artists of any kind that even though they have moved on from their finished pieces, their work will always be a part of them, a remnant of their souls.
To read Annie Tran’s poem (Obscura Vol 1, 2010, p.32-33), just scroll down.
Annie Tran, “Something Amiss”
I remember when the hammer hit my face,
chiseling flesh from stone.
Smoothing your broad hand across my cold cheeks,
you dug your fingers into my sockets
to form the ridge of my brow.
Under your ministrations,
your eyes dancing across my face in measurements,
pieces of me fell away to your imagination.
You looked at my face and saw what was amiss.
Now I am atop your world.I am the pretty stone,
the face,peering from the brick of a building.
Your legs scissor away the grid of your city.
Busy melting time in your five fingers,
I never got beyond the top of your head.
I want to say – shout – hello,
but the wind carries my thought away.
I can’t stay mad at it.
It is the only thing that speaks to my ear.
The only thing to scratch the itch
running down my cheeks in the rain,
the amiss of my face.
You have ten fingers,
but things keep melting between the cracks:
candy wrappers shining like dimes,
white leaves of words rolling in air,
and the red balloon freed by a cackling breeze.
You look up.
Hello,I think to you.
Your eyes rove the sky
to watch the slipping inches of red that got away.
Not the piece you let go.