Just This Fragile
It seems we’re at a window, looking in
on an interior. Despite the fact
that we’re a bare few feet away, the room
within escapes our gaze. But where cut stone
defines the window, there’s no shutter – just
a quiet adolescent leaning out
on that ledge with a reed to blow the bubble
Chardin has caught in airy paint. The youth
holds reed in his right hand, ledge in his left.
His jacket shares the stone’s grey tint, despite
a flash of white at collar, slash, and cuff.
Here, linen shows. His ribboned hair is back
off his fine forehead. There’s a sort of ease
to his still concentration – which will not
describe the child beside him, almost lost
in that unlit interior, who stands,
one must assume, on tiptoe to behold
this game for older children. Life is just
this fragile, one might comment – not a new
remark, but Chardin leaves it there for us,
if we need more on canvas than a youth
at play, a child on tiptoe by his feet.
John Claiborne Isbell
Since 2016, various MSS of John’s have placed as finalist or semifinalist for The Washington Prize (three times), The Brittingham & Felix Pollak Prizes (twice), the Elixir Press 19th Annual Poetry Award, The Gival Press Poetry Award, the 2020 Able Muse Book Award (twice) and the 2020 and 2021 Richard Snyder Publication Prizes. John published his first book of poetry, Allegro, in 2018, and has published in Poetry Durham, threecandles.org, the Jewish Post & Opinion, Snakeskin, The HyperTexts, and The Ekphrastic Review. He has published books with Oxford and with Cambridge University Press and appeared in Who’s Who in the World. He also once represented France in the European Ultimate Frisbee Championships. He retired this summer from The University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley, where he taught French and German and coached men’s and women’s ultimate. His wife continues to teach languages there.
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