after Robert Ryman, in memory
You were already gone
in monochrome scaffolds
where time is texture
and vision apprehends vision
in the flash before form finds a name.
Here there’s no room for a self to sift through.
These minute strips of white--
glacial in the right light and mind--
dislodge from the cling of language.
At the frame’s edge thought stops
on a gray splotch: an imagined origin.
This poem was written about an Untitled Robert Ryman painting in particular. You can see it here.
Joseph Massey is the author of A New Silence (Shearsman Books, 2019), Illocality (Wave Books, 2015), and a trilogy grounded in the landscape of coastal Humboldt County, California: Areas of Fog (Shearsman Books, 2009), At the Point (Shearsman Books, 2011), and To Keep Time (Omnidawn, 2014). He lives in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.
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