“The Impermanence of Human Sculptures,” by Tanaya Winder

The essential “arrangements”—

choose a coffin to keep her


protected from “the elements.” Given sufficient time

we rust like iron, disintegrate in the presence of air


moisture and water. The palpable aging of paper.


Do we all sleep like marble

statues, fixed points in a room

with locked expressions? Interpreting the abstract


space dangling between

waking and sleeping is

an obsessive repetition. Was it Eva Hesse


who explored the medium of art

fading over

time and wasn’t that part of what made it


beautiful? That’s what I still called my mother

post-mastectomy. Her single breast drooping,

a perfect display of three-dimensional


impermanence. A brave faced statue.


That’s how I like to think of it. No—

that thinking makes it bearable


when people ask: how

did it happen? She hanged herself, a lone


wire suspending her, delicately,

like wet paper molded into the exact shape


of emptiness. Unstable. Like a cloth-covered coffin,

left crumpling in the wind,


like paper. Or Eva. Dear Eva,

diagnosed with a brain tumor. Eva who died

in 1970. And mother who wrote a letter before


she died: keep it, safe—


as if the storage of places and names, as if

things and people, couldn’t

rust indistinguishably.


Printed with permission by Tanaya Winder, copyrighted by Tanaya Winder @ 2010.

Author: A Room of Her Own

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