For John Berger
In the painting, which is not
a painting, within the half-light
of the photographer’s screen,
in the wrinkled grief
of the subject’s eye, the ridge
of his cheek, his cinched-lip,
in his nearly perfect lack
of expression, there’s an order
between the sets of the visible.
the result is unnerving:
there is more solitude, more pain,
more dereliction, at the same time,
there is an irresistible willto-
be-seen. What I glean
from this hunger to connect,
from Sitting Bull, who, like Jonathan
against imperial Saul, ate
regardless of the decree,
because he was hungry.
Born Hoka Psice, Thathánka Íyotake is the Lakota name for Sitting Bull (1831 – 90), holy man and tribal chief of the Hunkpapa Lakota people.