V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




This time the field breaks
for red poppies that move
in a slow wind.  And
my father, at last, admits
that the paint can’t be held
in the mind as landscape
so near.  He is directly
before the Monet, an intern,
for the first time,
leaning towards an open throat
dipped in light.  There stands
my father, a foundry-worker, tipping
himself forward into that red
that is not yet a flower
or a field of flowers
because he is too close to see
anything but molecules of color arriving
from another century, another country.
On a day of wind and ice that tessellate
the high windows of the museum,
I finally say, “Try looking
from over here,” where I stand
twenty feet behind him.
He picks his way backwards
like a man feeling along a rope,
whispers, “You have a point.”  He agrees
that, to enter the field, distance works.
Outside, the snow
is coming faster and we go
because the drive home will be long
and dark.  And the storm, its broken
strokes revolving as we recall
staring at a summer field
of poppies, stalls as if trying
to solve the troubling equation
of nearness and distance beneath
the insistent but shrouded stars.


© by Susan Varnot


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