Marcel, we come from different worlds. I’ve had months to sit in the gaze of your work, to learn the eccentric textures of your canon, of you. I know the mark you made on yours but what could you possibly have to say of my world? The tame hedges and smooth bodies of The Bush are not the scrub and slithered light of mine. I’m suspicious of the conceptual. You made your transformations stark and visible. Even in your play there’s an honesty that I can only respect.

So what if I didn’t get it all. I’m sure you’d tell me that’s not the point, that somewhere between the nature and the notion I’ll find what it is that I need. I needed to read as much as I looked. Ten poems, ten lines each – ten things to say to you and the trace you left behind.

Some felt like puzzles you wanted me to complete. With Hidden Noise took me two translators and a code book, so I expanded your etchings into a poem from a second-hand fire seller to the sea. For The Fountain I fed a plumbing manual through a Dada generator until I had crushed the gleaming porcelain in the rubble. I wrote Rotorelief in circles until I had hypnotised myself from the swirl.

I found sad beauty in everything you tried to conceal. From The Bride: a crumpled brown notebook, each torn page catching morning light as it tumbles down the stairs. The scent of Belle Haleine: Eau de Voilette hangs in the air like dried petals falling from a funeral bouquet. I think you wanted me to play with you, but I read chess theory to my sister, and she said it sounded lonely.

Marcel, my suspicions are rightful, but so are your moves.


Read Evelyn's poems responding to the artworks of Marcel Duchamp. These poems were commissioned for Red Room Poetry's event Punch Lines: Poets Play Duchamp, held in May 2019.


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