A Shishkin Triptych
1. Chapel in the Woods
In northwest Russia: one quaint edifice,
the base of its dry masonry foundation
only inches higher than a brook
that soon enough will pound the building with boulders,
all the uncharitable flood debris
(look at the exposed tree roots above).
This is, however, an accustomed site,
terrestial streams or footpaths mirrored by
a flyway of six ravens overhead.
Now, note the metal pipe diverting water
downward. Here is the source—a holy font
of inspiration at high latitude,
where a painter works below his white-night sun.
2. Stream in the Forest
This spot is so familiar. Last seen
in Europe, now it’s right behind our house
(via steeply eroded anticline).
Funny how a place can have a twin:
three quarters of a mile to Tanner’s cabin--
when I bushwhack south across Bare Mountain rock--
this sheltered site along a tributary
feeding Sorrels Creek souls out a whisper,
Why the haste to reach a logger’s road?
Take off your knapsack. Rest among the ferns.
Here, covered with a modest clarity
that functions—wavering—as a hand lens,
arrives my nameable: a waterworn
novaculite projectile (Gary point,
the variant obscured) three thousand years
on this slope, washing downward in the flow.
3. Rain in the Oak Grove
Dressed in styles of 1891
(homage to some bloody Western film),
a couple under Sunday-best umbrella
and a man with a not-yet-sawed-off shotgun
stride forth in muddy ruts, just having witnessed
Unforgiven win its Oscars for
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting
Actor, and Hellacious Editing.
This city park—the Best Oak Grove this year--
enhanced by puddles from a late monsoon,
allows the mind to fog reality
until Saint Petersburg can reappear.
Reality is messy. Art is clean,
if only for a moment in light rain.
Mark Blaeuer’s poems and occasional translations of Spanish-language poems have appeared in Blue Unicorn, The Dark Horse, Ezra, The Found Poetry Review, The Hiram Poetry Review, Measure, Nimrod, Verse Wisconsin, Westview, The Windsor Review, and many other journals. Kelsay Books/White Violet Press published a collection of his work, Fragments of a Nocturne, in 2014. He lives a few miles outside Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, where he was employed as a ranger for twenty years. His M.A. (in anthropology) is from the University of Arkansas.
The Ekphrastic Review
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