Epigraph: I think it’s what you take out
of a picture that counts. There’s
a residue. An invisible shadow.
—Andrew Wyeth, 1917-2009
In the left corner
a woman in a faded pink dress
thin black belt
sitting twisted in the meadow
her back to us
black hair sliced through with gray
askew from the bun
face turned upward
arms like legs, hands like feet
heading in the direction
of the weathered farm house
on the hill in the upper right corner
set in a circle of mowed grass
no windows painted
onto the left side of the house
even though there are.
face of an elderly woman
her legs polio-ravaged
her drag marks across
the floors of the farm house
the overwhelming stench
her lobster-red geraniums in a kitchen window
her brother’s selflessness
his dory put to bed in the barn.
The island is always there, imprinted,
a fluid, moving backdrop for the planned
and daily gestures enacted before it.
Miles from the coast, Port Clyde,
the Elizabeth Ann, and the ever-changing sea,
I read and reread poems written by acolytes
who are there in its strong embrace.
Their literate, graphic pictures catch in my throat
with recognition as the words
fuse together in focused images–
And–I turn to the pictures themselves:
they repeat the loving descriptions that I
not only remember, but wrote about.
My legal pad, fountain pen, and I,
tied to the shore, immerse ourselves
into our communal, esoteric passion.
We write about distinct well-worn shadows.
|BURNT HEAD, 2009
The surface of the ocean
I peer and blink and peer again,
“Please be a whale,”
Out on the farthest rocky point,
“Precarious,” I think,
I lift my glasses once again.
I set my sights in their direction.
“Oh God of all the blessings of this glorious day,
sign by the door said “if you MUST
have your sunday times, the boat leaves at noon.”
and he wasn’t ever sweet,
that i saw.
except in those fine little picture postcards,
musta been hundreds of em, took em with a brownie,
i heard, when brownies still had
the good optics.
i once lost a lens cap, and he rooted round
under his counter until he found one to fit.
never a hint of smile,
that i saw.
zimmie was vinegar, in my memory,
but that mixed well with the sweetness outside,
white hair and brows, eyes hard and clean,
like they could cut.
and the coffee smelt as good as whiskey,
and the talk was warm and funny in that store
in the morning but never sweet
that i could tell.