Building the Ships
I admire these men too much.
When these men get off work
They gather in barracks
to drink and talk about everything except
the ships they are building.
And if one of them tries, another will say,
“Evgeny! Do we have to talk about work?”
They are competent to an erotic degree.
They use hand tools that were
made by other hand tools
to build things that float down rivers,
that carry men to wars, or goods to trade.
Or fish? Are these fishing boats?
I don’t know. The builders know,
and the painter knows, and maybe
what they know is true.
I want this to be true.
I want a world that gives us compositions like this.
Where the planks of wood are rendered by layered
tranches of effulgent browns and golds.
Where there are seven ships with dragon prows,
and two dozen men with white tunics, red hats,
and suggested faces.
Where the shapes cohere
even if they are abstract,
even if there is no content
or meaning to glean.
I would step into this image
painted by a mystic wanderer
romantic liar priest
of corrupt emergent
If the men got off work --
if the men ever get off work
one of them would say,
“Evgeny. The painting is over, let’s drink.”
If the men get off work, the painter
will not drink with them. He can
only admire them from a distance
because they only exist at the distance
he paints them.
Somewhere in the paint
the builders have language and song
and names. But that’s the only place.
And I can’t see it.
Gary Chapin is an educator, advocate, poet, and accordionist living in central Maine (US) with his wife, Sunshine, and four cats. Ursula is his favorite of the cats. He's written one very amusing book about education, and is a writer and editor of MuddyUm, a humour publication on Medium.
The Ekphrastic Review
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