Illusion of the Visible
From the far end of a gallery,
she discovers an Impressionist painting, drawing
her into nightscape, murder mystery, detective rendered
in shadow on an otherwise deserted city street of glistening
pavement throwing distorted shapes, diffused light--
a scene where tragedy had taken place,
an inverted axe become penumbra.
As she stepped past the opening, moving her compass,
Impressionism turned into abstract art, images transformed
into form alone, broken into fractured light, independent
of worldly representation, gradations.
Another few steps into lambent glow, the picture
on the wall suddenly recognized as winter landscape,
ice layering viewpoint of a painting: water at night
as she moves to a position nearly parallel.
Approaching closer and standing still, she finds, instead,
photograph of a pond, surface congealed with algae.
Deeper shades looming, form intellectualized as pines
stripped of branches, mistaken sign still unidentified.
Leaving the museum, she returns to her detective
who was, for a moment, an obscure tree. She is searching
for clues, recalling scenes of Edgar Degas
painting Madame Camus while losing his sight,
Claude Monet fighting cataracts, offering a vision
of his vision; Rembrandt, Mary Cassatt,
and Georgia O’Keeffe struggling with biology
as their eyesight waned and neoteric brushstrokes
laid bare. Reality also distortion, this percipient
seeming to dive into unknown depths
carelessly or by design with her vision
unattached to her sight.
Nancy Avery Dafoe
Nancy Avery Dafoe is a published poet with two poetry collections and writer with eight published books in fiction and nonfiction. She lives in upstate New York with her husband Daniel and son Blaise and dog Bogie. She has won a number of awards for her writing, including the William Faulkner/Wisdom poetry prize, the Soul-Making Literary award for poetry and prose poetry, and the New Century Writers Award for fiction. A former high school and community college English teacher, she continues to offer writing workshops and has an editing business online to help other writers develop their projects: dafoewritingandconsulting.com
Tina Olsin Lent is the Director of the Museum Studies Program in the College of Liberal Arts at Rochester Institute of Technology. She has been involved in the arts as a professor and a practitioner for the past fifty years.
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