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.

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