A Rendering of the Site
In just a moment
the bird that appeared to alight on the stovepipe is gone.
Wingbeat too before the stoplight,
a grey throb in the red,
shadow dropping down
to the fast cars on the wide boulevard
where the trash is always in the picture
and plastic bags filled with air
fly on air. This is where you stand
with the city demanding
you be uninterested
in the maximal sky. The city
keeps a right angle to the horizon, loves spires,
gives token parks
and perhaps you walk there.
The city has things
around which you try fit your maw
and your attempt is not the same
as the others’. You have a particular look
as you proceed. Do you know it? Because in the country,
you may get left sitting downfield from the house,
or you may be an old man
reporting after a fox
with your lifted crutch. Or you are the fox,
or the porch the man stands on,
or you are the one rendering the site.
You may cover the edge of the property
with purple loosestrife or a wall of forest,
or a complex of gardens, or sensitive animals
walking slowly onward.
Or you may be hard at work
in the suburbs if not the city or the outlying areas
with your coffee and a glass of water from the cooler,
and a stick for stirring sugar,
and a blue felt moveable half-wall
and a calculation, and parts of your paycheck radiating out
to the other agencies that make all of this possible
though no one truly participates
in the daily concords
and not even caffeine has been fully lassoed
to your purpose. And still, your eye,
occurring at the top of your mug.
Drink, and you’ll disappear,
but only in one fashion.
You can’t mumble through a portrait
in the moments of its making.
You either have your halters,
or you drop them. Everyone emerges
from a hatch, or a wicket,
and at some point knows
the pitch of their bones,
or conceives the face pursuant to this:
tomorrow’s face, sprouting from the grain of one’s habitude
even if one is erratic.
Who hasn’t adopted an irregular pose,
been snapped up or snapped to,
or been in a moment and wanted
to smoke over the hatchlings,
take all the jam, hide the dipper
from the newcomers at the well?
It’s important to let these ideas seep in,
like drunks in a late house
and kill them while they sleep.
Whatever slips in slips into the blood.
There are no cold, clean rooms in your head,
no break in your action.
If you are one accident
mounting on top of another,
a continuity of feeling or an opening-up
into another area of feeling altogether
maybe you need to make a death mask
if you can’t make a factual illustration
of yourself at the edge of the block
looking into the afterward of passage of car, car, truck,
because you are still here
where the wind is a wake
and the trash is always in the picture
and plastic bags filled with air fly on air
all open mouth
upended wish, seen in place,
even without a fastness.
And you can decide to go down to the river
and gnaw at the exposed roots
with their patina of mercury, come what may,
but this is still the commission,
whether unfilled, your commission,
your portrait, still-life, yours.
First posted on June 1, 2006 6:19 AM