Zhangxinan (Ann) Wu

Still life: life in its stillness, ou la nature morte?
An urn still unpolished, a Babel of books,
changing seasons that are framed
by her bedside window, and
canvas only half-soiled by a patch of white, leaning
on the whitewashed wall of a rented room.

Like an uncommitted hermit enclosed in her
eventless existence, she still remembers
the summer solstice last year when a veil of mist
gradually covered the sun, the day
she, with mind ajar, met and studied the nude
in the bathroom mirror, quasi-cubist
after shower.

What shall we have for lunch? Shall we stage
the salmon as Manet would do?
Or, does abstraction mean anything
when life comes to its most intimate,
most intimidating “daily basis”? Do I
touch its tender lanugo, as that of a newborn?
May one create
Ex nihilo?

She feels the day the way she feels an apricot,
plump, not yet wrinkled
on a draped table: curves that seem to
complete a whole, a locus-to-be, where
she can say to herself—being is here,
un doux rien—and go on contemplating
the next stroke.

June 28 2020, Beijing