The Paintress

her limbs shed their leaves,
a muscle of plant ungrasping
all but a place of wind
into thin whispers of falling;

behind eyes hide mountains
of red nights, as
a brush flies across laughter-space,
a safe wish entoned
within a tunnel of lonesome magic
whose ink splatters out
toward this one bubble–an implacable

her fibers stretch
toward a flickering glass
into which she sails, her cell’s relation
to speechless innovation;
waterfalls of oil, dripping
onto rolled out scrolls;

clairvoyant inside that tube, snow
slowly erases symbols, untightens
symptoms of rigid air
as in a winterscape englobed, a home
minimized yet unrestricted, turning
its white clocks backwards
among looming trees, the once secret
toys of childish fingers, with hope
curling itself toward more innocent faces

all light exists
because her eyes tell it
to be;
don’t ask her to shut them now,
having lain her stars to burn
amidst old tombs,
for whose world, do you think,
would open onto such purple
should those cups of damp soil
get baked out
of their seeds and fruit?

or what silver might swim there
instead of duck-spread wakes
that break in silent dissection
of watergreen shadows, a lake
of silence between legs
spilling out in bedsome ripples?

behind eyes, see her
eyes that have suckled too long
at memory’s painful milk,
a tired heat that howls within
deeper earth,
her seeking skin still holding on
to baskets of bones, bloodless burdens

behind eyes, see her
encrypt new figures
of flowers, and slow spaces for
sleeping rocks, where often the scent
off distant mosses drifts

time is scarcely an eye like that,
though its life hails sunrise
a million ways; tempting fire,
it plays buried as craters
like the faces of absent gods
evaporated in ardent smoke, in steaming
systems of sacredness

let the snow breathe, then,
in its sacred glass chamber,
pouring on its tiny house
the sediment of cold song; a bird
will note such difference
between those places that darkness shows,

and out of this snowing glass,
watch closely
as she builds a new nest
with windows of painted bendings


(c) J. Celan Smith