|Apr/May 2013 Poetry|
Artwork by Clinton McKay
In lunatic rage she overthrows the chair
(Antique, my family's), pivots fists on thighs
And bends as taut as a drawn bow to stare
Me down, declaiming her scorn: "Self-pity, lies!"
The boy stands behind us in the open doorway
Stranded by the flood of shouted rage and shame.
He is more afraid to leave us than to stay
And our madness ebbs as quickly as it came.
The moon gives fits. You never know. Last night
Over the drapes it shown on us by turns
Mounted on each other. Charged with moonlight,
Blood runs to extremities, sense burns.
The moon full rules us when its doubling rays
Ignite these fires, the antic heart's displays.
Morning in the Tropics
Frederic Edwin Church, 1877
We sit again on the gallery sofa looking in.
Within the ornate gilt frame, the sun has just come up.
In the middle distance a figure, alone,
Paddles a dugout obliquely across
The track the rising sun lays down
Straight and gleaming on the water.
The man heads his boat for a high wall of trees
That is the painting's end, as far as we can see.
In a moment that will never come,
The boat will round a point of land rank
With forest growth still dark in silhouette
And the man will vanish.
Between us and the dugout, birds in loose file
Follow, without crossing, the sun's track.
In the left foreground, stands a great spreading tree
(Each time I see it I believe
No one has seen it before us).
The sun washes overlays of white and rosy gold
On the ridged bark and overhanging leaves.
Down the bank and to the right, two still black birds
(They, like the tree, seem just now first seen)
Pause on a fern branch extended over the water,
Displaying brilliant red breasts devised for a purpose
That we may guess but they cannot fulfill.
A guard passes by the sofa, making rounds,
As we note the signs it will be hot today.
The sun's disc clearing the trees in the east
Is white, its rim is fiery and smeared.
Vapors boil up from the water in front of the far trees
Through the dark crowns and stream southward across the pale sky.
How far will the man go today and where?
Perhaps there is a channel in the wall of trees ahead.
We can just make out the water line
Where the foliage is lighter; perhaps it thins, then parts.
A way might open eastward toward the sun
If this world had more dimensions.
The first time you and I stopped here
To watch the sun rising in a world so new
We could believe its discovery belonged to us,
We, like the man in the boat, were starting out.
The guard leans against the door frame; his head nods.
Time in the gallery slows to the moment in the frame.
After all, the man in the boat can go no farther.
Or is the truth perhaps the possibility that he will?
He, unlike us, is no more or less than a thought devised in paint,
Paint brushed onto canvas to make a day
Begun in heavy river airs already burning off
That is without a noon or evening or an end.