Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Jungle of Light

As he is dying, my father furiously

paints.  Instead of the small invisible strokes

he used earlier, precise as a photo, he splashes

light on the canvas with a wide brush,

bold and bright.


When he looks inside, he says, all is darkness

and vultures circling.  But beside him,

still wet, a painted phoenix

circles the sun.  It pulses with brilliance,

yellows, oranges, and reds.


Crouched over his easel, he paints

the sunroom he'd always wanted

but never had.  Looks out from a jungle of light

and leaf to a succession of mountains gold on gold

on gold in the setting sun.


When he can't stand any more, he sits,

and when he can't sit, he paints lying

curled on his side.  Water lilies, in another new painting,

each flame white, green and gold.  Light defines

the leaves and liberates the water. 


He paints a self-portrait, a bit of ink blue,

black, purple and plum.  Drenching him with light,

a sun rises inside his heart.  An absence of paint

creates the light.  And the paint is absent;

it's missing, more and more.








Mary Stebbins

for Joseph Ciaranello (my father)

Sent to Turtleink Tuesday, August 14, 2007

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Blackbird at First Light

Turning toward the gorge, your lips

brush mine.  A kiss, or almost a kiss.  One.  The first.


In return, I kiss you twice.  Water falls.  Mist sprays.

Our lips touch.  Then touch and touch again. The thrill


wakes me. I pull the covers over my head, hunting

in the darkness for you.  In vain.  A blackbird


sings at the window.  Won't let me slip back to you.

In the next room, you sleep alone.  At breakfast, we meet


again.  Your lips and hands flutter eagerly. Beside you,

shivering in the heat, I'm glad.  Electricity


lingers on my lips.  On the window ledge, the blackbird

picks at and pushes something glittery:  perhaps


a scrap of dream, with its pattern of interwoven starbursts.

A bit of shattered sunrise.  You look


not at the bird but at me.  Your lips pause by my ear.

Almost close enough to kiss.







Mary Stebbins

For Keith, remembering Niagara

6A, 2/11/04; 5A, 12:20 AM; 4Vv, 10-3-02; 3D, 8-30-02; 2A, 7-14-02; lst, 7-2-02

(see 3F, different version?)

Sent to Turtleink Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Jack Horner and Julia Child outside the Montana Museum of Natural History

Remember when you fed me the petrified eyelash

of a dinosaur?  Or so I thought.  An eyelash, I said, pointing,

to my omelette.  Birds have eyelashes, those feathered dinosaurs—

consider the ostrich, batting its thick translucent lids


and smiling coyly.  (Remember when you used to smile

at me like that?)  You insisted it was only the edge

of a bubble of oil.  Grease, I called it, and you were horrified. 


So you said, yummy grease, as if adding the word yummy

would make it okay.  Would make anything okay, now.


That eyelash reappeared in a stew, in a sandwich,

on my steak.  It grew and grew.  Not a coprolite, precisely,

not the imprint of a giant fern or the wing of a pterosaur, just that eyelash.

The tyrannosaur who lost it thrashes in my belly.


            And in the bed between us,

Shoving outward.


Mary Stebbins Taitt

Note on the poem:  Originally from a MNP assignment given by Patrick Lawler

070814, 070531, 060329a, 060328b Sent to Turtleink Tuesday, August 14, 2007