Imaginary Paintings: Poet in Garret, November

POET IN GARRET, NOVEMBER

~attributed to Jan Vermeer, 1703

You see at once that she’s cold,

the way she hunches

over the table in the fireless

room. Light from one small

window slants across her page.

She is half-turned toward you,

her lips are parted, her eyes

focused on a word appearing

just above your right shoulder.

Imaginary Paintings: All Souls’, The Witch

ALL SOULS:  THE WITCH

~The Kilkenny Book of Hours, c. 1410

Outside, a half moon, waning.

Inside she sits by the fire, 

gray cat on her lap.

Her clothes are unremarkable

and her long gray hair is unbound

and mingles with the cat’s fur.

On the plain table, a wooden

bowl of apples. Garlic

and onions hang on pegs. 

A single dove shelters

on a rafter. A sudden wind

blows open the door.

 

 

This was originally for Pentecost, but I think it works for All Souls, too.

Heat

 

HEAT

Heat eats time. Heat sits, placid 

monster, pale and bloated,

a vapid balloon across the land,

filling its maw with hours, 

ambitions, appetites,  joys.

It knocks birds from the sky,

cats from their windowsills.

Gardens sprout thermophilic

weeds and nobody cares.

No one can swim in the lake scum.

All the fans have broken.

 

Fighting is futile.

any knight who dares apprach

falls stuporous and weighted down.

 

Remember the cold?

Once upon a time 

it stretched its fine boned hands

over us, and what did we do then 

but whine?

Never again, we cry. 

O never again will we complain 

of its kind and gentle blue-frost smile.

ST. MOLUAG

This is more or less a work in progress, but today is St. Moluag’s feast, and I couldn’t resist.

 

 

ST MOLUAG

13th century, artist unknown

Tempera on board

He stands in his thick brown robe

before the church that bears his name.

The sky behind is gray with rain,

earth around all unflowered. 

In triumph, he holds up his severed thumb.

 

Move fourteen hundred years along—

Isle of Lewis, the sky still full of gale. 

A dozen people trail into the stony church. 

We have stood the gales a thousand years,

light in the darkness, singing in the wind.

They comfort the stranger, 

laugh at the storm:

We will stand on until the end.

For more about the church:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teampall_Mholuaidh

 

For more about St. Moluag:  http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/adversaries/bios/scot_pict/moluag.html

 

 

June 21st

JUNE 21st

 

They say it’s to be the longest day, but

how shall we know with the sun again

behind clouds thick as oceans. Down 

here like denizens of the deep we’re 

losing our eyes and growing weird 

appendages. Luminous lures spring

from our foreheads. Wind waves dark

fronds of weeds over our heads.

It might as well be the longest night.

We take what nourishment we can.

PLAIN BIRD

PLAIN BIRD

 

I woke like something hatching

from a plain egg—gray, speckled

with brown. Hatched like a plain

bird, a common bird. Some kind

of sparrow, spotted like last year’s

leaves and litter. I started the coffee,

leashed the dog, stepped out

into the rain where a robin—

an ordinary bird—was singing.

CANDLEMAS, VERMONT

CANDLEMAS, VERMONT

Clear out the Christmas clutter

so no one will die this year.

Count the candles and say a prayer.

We don’t bless the herds

or let lambs out in the cold.

It is not spring here.

Half the woodpile should remain;

half the potatoes, half the grain.

Your breath-cloud echoes

a shadow of smoke crossing

and recrossing the snow.