8.04.2005

This is a "glose" (from Way Stations). (A Portuguese poetic form. Sylvia Petrie is a Rhode Island artist of Portuguese descent. Her husband Paul Petrie's book, Rooms of Grace : New and Selected Poems, just published, by New Orleans Poetry Journal Press.)

(I was mistaken about the provenance of the image. It was taken from the frontispiece of an old edition of Piers Plowman.)

 On an Untitled Print

for Sylvia Petrie


The work is finished in the dark.
The world's invisible, unknown.
A night of snowfall leaves its mark.
It will remain, when we are gone
.


Inside the silver picture frame
frozen winter night has come.
An image like a negative.
Black ink feathered off, by hand,
imprints a landscape (winter gloom).
The traces of your handiwork
are what gives light – the glowing land
flows down (from hills to scattered sand)
in random touches... flick and fleck.
The work is finished in the dark.


This labor scatters into day
like Monday mornings – who can say
what these wayward shapes contrive?
Triangular, amid uncertainties,
one tiny house (snowbound, lonely)
gleams (nestled, shrunken)
between the looming cedar trees
and those unclear interstices
which could be universe – or none.
The world's invisible, unknown.


The picture hangs against a wall
where afternoon light sometimes falls,
and sometimes (strangely) time will give
instead of take... and I can see
what you were doing, after all.
Through curving space, look
back... into reclusive memory.
This house, this hill, this endless sea
were yours. Engrav├Ęd. Cold and stark.
A night of snowfall leaves its mark.


We grow away from home forever.
Epitaphs for each survivor
elevate the long perspective.
Parallels we harvested
return. As in a childhood fever
everything we once disowned
(what seemed frivolous, detested
chaos) now coheres. Nested
on a hillside, sloping down...
it will remain, when we are gone.


3.23.97

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