Poetry


Equinox 36x36 acrylic - black wood frame.jpg

Equinox | Acrylic | 36"x36" | Wood Frame (Black) / *** SOLD ***


Equinox

You spoke a language
we could not understand
just before you died, your last words

a gust of misplaced syllables
and I imagined you traveling
in another land, somewhere

between the continents of living
and dying, an equinox
where dark presses

against light, moon
against sun, where sky
and earth and even the  trees

speak a foreign tongue. Sometimes
in the middle of the night,
awakened by a dream,

I stalk the house
in search of something
familiar and alive I can touch,

listen to.  I play the piano,
stroke its keys, a new constellation,
water the amaryllis planted

in stones as if in these hours
before daybreak I can awaken something
but even your photograph

is a still life, a fixture
in a world we are traveling
away from.


Snow Storm in the Wind Rivers

In the Seineside village of Vetheuil
Monet defied optical science,
observing for years how snow captured sunlight,
holding it for an instant, then releasing it
in a new geometry of planes and spheres,
slightly skewed on canvas to reveal a truth
more sensuous than the laws of physics could explain.

In the painting Vetheuil: Sunshine and Snow,
a familiar orange glow lifts off the hillside,
yellow brushstrokes radiate from the white roofs
of the village houses. When you see it
you think you know the exact second
Monet opened his shuttered windows
to a world disappearing, a world
renamed with each brief flurry of time.

Or consider his predecessor Turner,
who shackled himself to the mast of a ship
pulling out to sea in a raging blizzard.
There on deck all night, the boat fighting back
the storm, he recorded everything --
the precise direction of the wind and snow,
the full effect of moonlight diffused by snow
and snow clouds, the luminous swirl of sea.
Months later, when he painted it, the boat itself
was only a small black blur, dissolving
into sky and sea and storm.

I remember one summer hiking
in the Wind River Range of the Rockies.
A snow storm blew in so suddenly
we couldn’t get down the mountain
so we fished for hours in a lake we couldn’t see,
casting our lines into a gray void,
our voices speaking to each other in whispers
as if we and the purple gentian
and the blue columbine
were part of a world disappearing,
part of the dream we could no longer remember.


Swimming in Akumal

You could learn to live here
without ever measuring time
in linear seconds or distance
in the miles we journey.
Everything here is cyclical
and circular like the half moon
bay we swim in. Sun
and wind are nature’s runes,
marking summer solstice, or storms
churning in from sea.

You could learn to forget here,
drifting in emerald water
among sea turtles and fish
the color of fruit – kiwi, mango, papaya –
and all around you, coral reefs rising
like sacred temples from the ocean’s floor,
their exotic bloom luring
you beyond the cove,
tugging you to unfamiliar channels
of amnesia, uncharted dreams.

You could learn what it means
to love here, the red hibiscus
unfolding its petals to morning,
a beauty and clarity
as resonant as the tide.
At night you could taste the salt
on your lover’s lips,  knowing
you are tasting the earth,
knowing what it means
to love the world
we are adrift in.


Still Life

In the painting Ram’s Head with Hollyhock
there is a melding of bones and sky
and desert, no beginning or end,
just the eye sockets of a skull
transfixed on the faraway
and in the foreground, red hills and cedar.
I imagine O’Keefe walking in the desert
at night, catching a glint
at her feet -- a shell, a stone --
and stooping to gather it up,
discovering the bleached bones
of a skull, vast and empty and beautiful,
like her desert.  She must have rotated it
in her hands that night under the moon
as if it were a small earth, seeing in
its bony crevasses  and arched jawline  
the curvature of her own world,
its hills and arroyos alive in this skeleton
of animal. She must have heard the
echo of mountains, the rhythm of sky
in the labyrinth of bone.
And when she painted the yellow hollyhock
beside the skull, she must have seen
its petals ignite in flame,
a heart laid open
at its center, forever pressed
into bloom, into memory
of what we lose in the world,
then find again in hill and bone and sky.