Welcome to Saturday ...
shimmering brightness to appear on the print
where sunlight and foliage came into contiguity.
~ Janet Malcolm
My dear, you moved so rapidly through my life
I see you as a ghostly blur;
You are the subject, I the ornament
Eternally crossing some cobbles on some rue,
Where a covey of pearl umbrellas glistens
And ladies pause—courtesy of Caillebotte—though
This is of an era before we were born.
But the impression is emotionally true:
A sheen of rain, a gray noncommital sky;
Limp banners cling to window frames (Monet);
And the bonnet, shovel-shaped with a crimson brim,
Casts a becoming glow over my face,
No longer young, ambiguous, shimmering.
A bunch of violets tucked at the waist, the figure
Navigates curb and puddle, assisted by
A gentleman in black, a courtly crook of arm:
Poseur and posed, the painter and the painted
Doubly exposed. Now I am reminded
Of a woodland picnic slightly earlier,
You almost fully dressed, I not quite naked;
You in the serge of your reserve
And I as bare as in those disturbing dreams
That reveal our vast uncertainties, including
Those of Giorgione and Manet.
Background figures (us, in fair disguises)
Haunt the middle distance, bosky, green,
Stand witness, even when .reclining…
But I am no Cherie but Liebchen. Liebchen.
Our expeditions did not end in halcyon places.
Instead, all roads led to a sanitary fill
In full sunlight. Nothing ambiguous about that.
We raise champagne in paper cups, toast one another,
Perched on the tailgate of an ugly car.
But the shutter snaps, and we slip into art,
Its negative image: sister into brother.
Once a little coarse, a trifle epicene
(a little too Rouault, whom you admired),
You've silvered over through the passing years.
Now, like a platinum plate, imagination,
That elusive lustre, may transform
A row of poplars to the filaments of desire;
An alley, lit by one gas lamp, the path
To Charon's boat, that ultimate black stream.
This fluid which develops and embalms
Beyond the possibility of alteration,
ls cropped by us, to suit perversities
Of taste and time . Your sinewy arm (Cezanne's)
Seemed to wrap twice around my waist.
Dreamer and dream, in dose up confrontation,
The pair emerged as Bonnard's moving blurs.
Touch now, O author of my authorhood,
Your peer at last in contiguity
Before we went our ways and broke the frame.
What happened to us friend? You saw the light,
Not that of haloed streetlamps. Halogen
Impersonally scanned us, banishing
All subtle shadows, a trace of leaves at night.
The hallowed moon, astigmacized before,
Is glowing with a brighter face than ours,
Scored by the years, focussed last, and free.
~ Janet Malcolm