...Not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at...

Weirdly, I feel like I've been struggling with these EXACT thoughts for months, so to read this and hear it tumble from another mouth made me love Albert Goldbarth even more.

Plus, it's one of the most exact and beautiful poems I've read in quite some time.

Which means you best like it too.

The Elements

      The cool, dusk-blue of the shadows of these Dutch plums
is mixed with a quarter-thimble of gray that matches
      glints in the skins of the pears, the berries, the liver-paste.
If the dull swell of a herring on a plate picks up
      red chevrons meaning a candle (out of sight) is lit,
the crystal of burgundy weighting another corner is given
      a small red heart of light at its center so
everything, in shape and weight, is balanced, and
      the keen lines angled like stylized rain around
the base of the creamer say the same green as the stems
      that have been set like accent-marks for the scansion of cherries.
In the back, in the middle, a hot loaf is broken
      for steam to rise in a perfect column of nearly
corinthian detail, at the edges of which it thins
      in equilibrium with the night, as a breath might
leave a body and settle, composed and ubiquitous.
      I wonder if this still-life exists in the universe


of a wormy handfull of rice. I wonder what the sense of time
      in which it was painted has to do with a year
in the dog cages. When a prisoner's released
      from one of those, he "walks" by sitting, moving his legs
ahead of him by hand, like huge quaint compasses.
      This group was abducted out of their homes and now will be kept
at an "interim camp." They face the camera with something
      in their eyes beyond despair. Before the film goes
to a New York-based reporter summing it up, we see
      a newly-uncaged woman catch a doll
a soldier tosses her, then start to comb its patchy hair, and only
      hours later will we come to understand this
is her infant daughter dead of cold water and lye.
      I wonder, in all of science-fiction, if there have been
two universes this discordant, or what it means
      that there can be a suffering so intense its balance only
exists somewhere in the next life. And


      I wonder if I should hate that painting, I wonder
if out of faith kept with the brutalized, I should revile
      the easy leisure with which another world applied its dedication
to a study of shadow lengthening under tangerines, I
      wonder if now we must love that painting more than ever,
its calm, its idea of order and abidingness, I wonder
      isn't this exactly the freedom for which we risk the cage
and dream of in the cage to keep us living, this
      aloof, light space in which the heft of a peach against
washed linen can grow important and exact,
      I wonder if I should burn a painting like that
and turn to the knife and the placard, I wonder if
      I should give my days to the completion of its housing
under temperature control, I wonder what we give
      our nights to, and how much our days define our nights, I
wonder until I sleep, and I sleep like a fresh bread
      cooling, reaching an agreement with the elements.

[Albert Goldbarth, from Arts & Sciences]



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