Skunk, Twilight

I remember,
when I see the animal wobbling, distracted,
across the road
that the famous blacks of Velázquez
— the rich black even Picasso envied —
were burnt wood or bone,
plant or animal color,
and not an absence at all,
nothing to do with dusk
or the fading light /

likewise in his dithering,
following a scent trail
to the edge of the cornfield,
he is disconnected
from what is left of the day:
splendid, bold, apart.

And then the hay on each side
freshly mown, the draft horses
in the far stables
apparently alone;
the stag, in its own hour,
a little farther on.

I remember how much beauty
is in these margins,
in back lane illuminations,
our drifting bodies
without the purpose
and accomplishment of daylight,

how I would rather be the first painter
of common things, as Velázquez said,
than the second painter of something much grander,
rather spend the evening
with these rich relations
than back among the waking poor.

Copyright © 2018 Lilibug Publishing.

Cave Painting

Putting aside the fact that they are old,
which is, admittedly,
like putting aside the divinity of a god
or the black of a crow,
we understand the paintings in the Chauvet Cave
because we have been children,
because we lay awake in summer,
possessed by what we wanted and what we owned.

‘We’ll go horse riding on the beach,’
my father promised,
and I never slept, hearing the relentless
gravel pulsing of the sea,
seeing my pinto, as though he were there
— and me, straight-backed,
moving the spirited thing
with the pressure of my heel.

If I could, I also would have
ground stones to powder,
mixed fat and spit,
sketched the thin-legged horses,
their necks impossibly arched,
posed static, because they were mine.

And then, in bed,
under whatever rushes hid and warmed us,
watched the obsessive fire
trace their red and ochre lines.

But the Ensenada pony,
when I tried to ride him,
mostly stood
— tired, malnourished —
until I pulled him reluctant
to the edge of the water
uncontent and untransformed /
the dark shapes of trawlers inching
like beetles on the horizon:

paintable ships, but knowing now
how only shipwrecked sailors paint,
how only starving hunters paint.

Copyright © 2018 Lilibug Publishing.