"Culture is given to someone.  A work of art presupposes some kind of recipient, even if that person is removed in space and time, faceless, unknown, unimaginable." - Rachel Hadas
from "Merrill, Cavafy, Poems, and Dreams" (Univ. of Michigan Press 2000)

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The Spirit of Magloire

December 27, 2014

Green and Gold

for Stivenson Magloire

by Rachel Hadas

 

Amidst the glossy dark-green foliage

Of trees around the hotel pool,

I spy a low-hanging golden fruit.

So many trees whose names I do not know

And for the first time do not care to learn.

The overwhelming now in its countless inflections

cancels vocabulary: eyes lips skin

instead of words.  Still in the pool,

floating on my back as the sun gets low,

I look at the mango, if that is what it is

(I think it is some wholly other fruit),

and suddenly smell garlic sautéed in butter.

Chefs in the kitchen under the trees

are getting the hors d’oeuvres ready.

 

Yesterday in a dim, airless gallery,

following your lead,

I hunted down an iconography

written in a grisly alphabet

yet full of life, the haunting gaze direct,

transcending Death.  Death had in winning lost.

Art trumped death and life trumped art.  Last night

(our third together – sleep

a whole new texture in a bed with you),

I gave you space and found myself at the border

of a far province in a king-sized bed,

a dimly lit hinterland where paintings ruled,

a region wholly devoted to the work

of the same painter, mysteriously killed,

stoned to death (“lapidated” was one word),

assassinated – why?  A mystery

to be solved by iconography?

Death had won but also death had lost.

 

Garlic and butter.  Glossy dark green leaves.

Voices across the pool.  A hanging fruit.

An azure splash.  And as the sun goes down,

you sit by the window in our room,

drawing pictures of this this this time.

What to call it?  Colors in your hands

trump words.  Like the fruit,

like the solution to the mystery,

something I am at a loss to name.

 

            forthcoming in Poetry magazine

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