This photo wasn’t accidental! This was a smile for you!
Don’t forget that The Used World discussion is coming up soon, and I’m still just sitting here patiently waiting for anyone to request a free copy. Free shipping! You really can’t beat that.
As promised, a poem a day until we begin the book discussion. Please don’t mistake this for ego on my part; I’d print poems that make mine look as if they were written by one of my mastiffs, but there are copyright issues to which I’d rather not lose my house, my car, my family, and my taxidermy.
(for Leslie Staub)
The priest drinks his tea, takes in the view
of my room, neutral. He asks, is there nothing
here you find sacramental? I am not
meant to answer, or else I am to say
I enjoy my souvenirs, thank you very much.
But I say yes, I know, yes, what is sacred
to me in this room in this barn where I sit
in silence, where sometimes I am wholly still
and when I rejoin my senses there is dust on my hands,
things have changed I’ve been gone so long,
the air is filled with a noise like a knife point,
and the candle wick has drawn down, drowned.
I tell the priest there is one holy frame, and inside
is a painting of a philosopher and mathematician.
In his body of work there is a single sentence
concerning robbery, and the artist has painted
the words on a metaphor held between his hands, or
perhaps he is holding a raven who speaks
them on a red banner, or the sentence is an
equation. I do not understand what he means,
robbery, and so the puzzle becomes my baptism,
my metamorphosis. I love his face, his old
hands, his helpless God, his faith in the reconciliation
of opposing forces. In the painting,
invisible to everyone but me, there is a shadow,
and it’s nothing, just him, just the philosopher
and me standing in a window
watching the snow fall on Cambridge. The painting
is my sole testimony, and not just because of the snow
or the riddle or raven, but because the painter
is a woman who arrives when I have been still
too long, and she reads my life to me, she performs
the rites, extreme unction, and I would want no one
to paint him but her, I would turn my face away
from any other rendering. Only her and only him,
the three of us a society.
The priest looks at the white wall in front of me.
I say yes, yes. That’s where it isn’t.