A Group of Seven Norway Spruce
A painting I may not have seen
has gone missing from all of the places
I almost remember it being.
For years I’ve been trying to find it,
since something reminded me of it
by summoning forms I was certain
were only familiar to me from
that landscape the scene recollected:
I saw how the twigs on a spruce tree
swung pendulous down from its branches
as if they were hanging on hinges
the same way they looked in that painting.
I thought it was one of those things in
the world I would never have noticed
except that some picture I’d taken
for flight of the artist’s own fancy
showed up in its colours and figures
that waited unlighted for someone
to frame them just so, like the twists
of the naked grey stumps I’ve seen spiralling
up from the shoreline, which Harris’s
painting had primed me to find.
But I may have invented that picture:
it turns out those spruces aren’t from here.
They didn’t grow wild in the woods where
MacDonald and Johnson and Lismer
Carmichael and Varley and Jackson
would draw secret truths from the trees.
They’re an introduced species from Europe,
more pleasing of form than the natives,
which never get taken for Christmas.
They’re grown to throw shade in the city,
and though they might pick up the habit
of sprawling from lawns in the suburbs
they’ve only invaded the landscape
in my mind
Matthew King used to teach philosophy at York University in Toronto, and is the author of Heidegger and Happiness. He now lives in “the country north of Belleville,” where he walks a rope bridge between the neighbouring mountaintops of philosophy and poetry.
The Ekphrastic Review
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