Monday, April 30, 2007

A Day on the Iowa River


We took a walk by the swollen river for the art festival over by Hancher on Saturday. On the way we stopped and sat in what I envision our future living room will look like, two Eames Lounge chairs (although not in my favorite style, the Santos Palisander version....and I think Santos Palisander will be the name of my protagonist in my (eventually) best selling noir crime series....but I digress...) and a Jackson Pollock on the wall. We also saw the Picturing Eden exhibition with some decidedly creepy looking kids and some other good stuff...for lack of a better word. I recommend seeing it before it leaves town. After that the art fair was disappointing just your usual suspects of carpetbagger painters with many Thomas Kincaide looking pieces. The earring booths were busy however.

Ruminating about the river this weekend , finding this poem in my email, and seeing El Duderino's boys fishing caused a Proustian rush... (as Woody Allen said that would be a great name for a perfume) ...of canoeing in New England and hanging out at one end of the Connecticut River or the other. The Dude and I fished near the source with a bunch of soon to be lawyers several years ago. We arrived too early in the season as the ice had not moved out of the lakes and I think one guy out of fifteen caught three trout. We should have thrown back the trout and tossed in a few lawyers for better luck the next time around. But I digress. James Merrill and the Dude lived in the same town, Stonington CT. I am not sure where Merrill lived but El Duderino and his girlfriend (now wife) shared a nice apartment on Water Street in the Borough. I don't know about your "Ur-Conceptual mimesis " , The Dude will have to explain that since technically he does have an English degree.


A Day on the Connecticut River


The billionth-or-so dawn,
And yet how primitive
The little factory looks, upstream,
Its brickwork that of "early man"


Launched and paddling through creation's
At-a-stroke venerable inventory
Baked into clay banks, bedded onto stone,
The day meanwhile our own.


Tire after scuttled tire
Glides under the canoe,
Manholes of a twilit avenue.
Better admire


The tannin-tinted clarity
—An opal freckle? A bug's wing—
Dimpled, asway, working
Cures for singularity,


Each view, to its least defect,
Flawlessly duplicated, healed . . .
Or was that last cornfield
Greener in reflection than in fact?


Duck! Museum
Skylight lowers
Like a boom. Through bowers
Of the no-see-um


One broad-bowed solo
Chord subtending, now,
Brindled cow,
Barn and silo,


Carries the Ur-
Conceptualist further
Into mimesis:
Life ever truer


To life, begun
Afresh with a few like-minded species,
While the rest of our whizzes
Down Route 91


Whose traffic drone
(Or falls ahead?
Stay, reconnoiter
This white water—)


Yields to the eternal
Drumming of bees
In a noon tree's
Bleached bone.


Ah but, our zenith passed, my friend,
Two galley slaves, retracing a dead end
Of scum-glaze, lilypad, Atari dragonfly,
We're cuffed alert by headwind—empty sky—


Miles from a landing—every pulse a mean
Swipe of the palette knife—painstaking sheen
In jeopardy—the master's touch lost—sun
Cross-questioned, mutely reddening—damage done:


What good's "eternity" if it won't get
Us anywhere in time to build a fire
And pitch a tent and heat our stew before
Night falls, and share a final cigarette


Whereby new-smelted leads of the moonrise
Nonplus the prowling far-off headlight eyes,
And twin dreams fumble, enter and earth chill,
Shadow and cave, for on another—? Still


Once more in the event
All came to pass
First light. Then, piece by piece,
Exact scales weight the fortune lent


On such fair terms. From clay,
Cuneiform cliff swallows whistling dart—
Transaction noted here, in part—
Up and away.


James Merrill (1926-1995)

2 comments:

Churlita said...

Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention, but when does the creepy looking kid exhibit leave?

Dexter said...

May 13th...a week from this coming sunday.