14 May 2008

Steve Gehrke

[from Steve Gehrke's Michelangelo's Seizure", 2007]

Renoir, Arthritic

He's up early, considering the body,
its wetness, the bladder
like a puffer fish, the bowels
swallowing and swallowing,
mucus, come, blood, the soft crab
of the heart, darkly breathing,
the lungs spread out in the chest
like wings of a manta-ray,
not to mention the rich coral
of brain, the whole body
a trapped sea, netted in the skin,
perception itself just the motion
of the waves, the boat-wake
of experience healing into memory,
so that lying there, waiting to ring
the tiny silver bell that brings the nurse,
he feels his arthritis like a drought
inside of him, knowing the curative waters
at Bourbonne are no good, no good
the medicinal drip, his hand bruised
this morning where the brush was
strapped to it, though perhaps a bit of cloth
might be used between his fingers
and the wood, so that he can
continue to paint, to become
his rose-filled models, to feel
the elasticity of them, their fluidity
even in the hard desert-turtle
of his hand, so that he can continue
staring through the three-pronged
compass of the easel, until he gives
the signal and the canvas is raised
before him, like a sail, and he begins
to work, leaning forward, squinting,
drifting toward the horizon that he makes.

Michelangelo's Seizure (National Poetry Series)

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