Poised to Act

A poem by Lydia Kwa inspired by a painting by Remedios Varo


Mask partially dislodged
mouth still concealed

Her eyes look in the opposite direction

Wonder if she left the therapy couch
before or after beheading

She’s showing me
how to poise the Patriarch’s head
over the well

Key, clock and pacifier
kept her tame and silent

Locked her up
and suffocated the sky

Now she carries them
away in a tiny basket
bound for disposal



Stare down
what came before

Nervous breakdown:
old strictures
collapsed structures

Peel off
clouding my eyes

Let me move me

Let me take me

into a bigger sky


These lyrics were written in response to Woman Leaving the Psychoanalyst (Mujer Saliendo del Psicoamalista, 1961) a painting by Remedios Varo, a remarkable Surrealist painter. Reprinted from Uncommon Magic (2011, Upstart Press, edited by Christina Decarie). Check out the previous poems in this series, “Implicit,” “Light Becomes Music,” “Survival,” and “Sanctuary.”

The editors of The Unpublishables congratulate Kwa on winning the Earle Birney Poetry Prize.

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