The Ledge Press (2006)
Winner of The Ledge Press 2005 Poetry Chapbook Award
Elegy Arising from Resisted Parallels
There’s a glass vase whose moss roses
wait for death in clear water.
Beside the vase, on a creamy cloth
where shadows stay immobile,
a single rose creates another diagonal
to unify the design. Still,
how disturbing, that one left out.
Any second now the parallel will come.
But no: the lone rose, irremediably not
in the vase, is like nothing else.
She’s been gone one year, five days.
after Manet’s Moss Roses in a Vase
Painted flowers go on lasting like stones,
so these oils might as well be a profusion
of jasper, obsidian, chalcedony—not roses,
dahlias, day lilies mixed with sweet william,
apple blossom, gladioli, a blue morning glory—
every flower Courbet might have known, gathered
out of season, since the apple blossom comes
alone, light breaking into spring—so maybe
this is the more-than-real Courbet meant to carry
into death, the spill of life he'd see as he lay dying,
he who had refused to paint angels because they
weren’t real, and who instead painted men breaking
stone, hiding their faces to frustrate any rush to sentiment,
since it’s the visible that matters, Show me an angel
and I’ll paint one, so there are no angels that same year
in Burial at Ornans, only dark mourners, the dark open
grave, a white dog turned away from the priest and obsequies,
nothing but the real, no flowers in the mourners’ hands
or stone-strewn fields, though the land would not yield
flowers like these, in a vase that seems mere shadow,
as if death were entering through the water, up the stem,
the way death will enter the body through the feet, slip in
through the arch at the moment the blue morning glory
opens almost winglike, the face turned so the light
will not blind, blue real as sky, and no less temporary—