Sestina, Unfinished

Jane Huffman

I’m escorted by a vanity of mind.

She lays me down atop her vanity.

adjusts the mirror and says,

there’s no such thing as abstract art,

only vanity, the study of god

a strand


of beads. As a child, I was stranded

on the nude beaches of my mind,

the lap of god,

the ocean tending to its vanity,

tending to the vanity of art.

my vanity says,


I am a fuselage of dove. She says,

I am a fuselage of cheek, stranded

in the bulwarks of an art,

she says, still life of mind,

of grief, before it manifests in vanity,

a child’s line drawing of god.


I climbed into the brainstem of god.

vanity confessed to vanity.

I confessed to vanity. I stranded

her inside my three-way mirror,

the beaches of the mind.

It was not me, not art.


I learned how to talk an art

the way a god can talk about a god

— the pronoun of the mind—

the “I”—that towers she says,

I am a vein, I am a strand

of erect pearls, shocked into vanity


by the old electric chair of vanity

until the body was a strand


of heat.

This poem includes a quote attributed to Jean Dubuffet: "There is no such thing as abstract art, or else all art is abstract."