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Poems


October (After Georges Seurat)

        For Mike Rhoads

A morning for the 64-crayon box,
for siennas and umbers, for maroons
fading to mahoganys, for thistles
and yellow-greens, for copper
and a shade like gold beaten
into the thinnest sheets, then cut
to match the jagged edges of the leaves
and rubbed onto the daylight with
brisk, firm strokes, as though to glisten
in a precious scene forever; and use

the built-in sharpener for autumn's
pointillist effect, a hundred spots
of color side by side that the eye
(Seurat's, or anyone's) must somehow
make sense of -- for trees still
green at the center but ringed with
oranges like flames, for hillsides bright
with yellows borrowed from the sun,
for thick tangles of vines turned
the red of dried blood; then color

in the spaces around the trees --
with a crunch of brittleness
underfoot, with a cumin-spiced
scent of decay to thicken the air,
with the soft laments the creek sings
to charm the rocks it meets and then
breaks free of, with the slow spiral
a hawk describes overhead, and with
the sky's perfect endless blue that
no crayon can dream of matching.

31 October 2000


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