Bryan Walpert >


Waterside Pavilion Without Rowboat

Once you sat amid a field
of water in a boat
that bobbed with what you
presumed to be the current,
as in present. But you were
drifting towards an edge,
a pavilion or gazebo
that these years later
you've reproduced in paint,
absent, as they say, your presence,
as though to picture it
as it might have been then
without you. Perhaps this is
what it means to be forgotten,
what anything looks like when
you don't look over your shoulder:
Fields of the forgotten stretched
in rippled rows of negatives:
I was never there. We never met.
There is a rowboat floating by
that gazebo. Or it was there,
yesterday. Look harder.
Paint it as if you remember.
Paint it as if you have drifted
up to yesterday, surprising it.



Still Life
              after Georgia O'Keefe and Man Ray
A woman watches apples,
their bowl cast its signature
on the sidetable, an electric fan

buoy a petunia
in a white vase. A viola floats
into the room.

From her perspective,
an apple is shaped
like a heart. She practices
her husband's signature,
its floating loops,

a viola scrawling a faint score,
the signature of his heart
scratching across a page.
A fan blows light
from the room, a petunia
drowns in air,

apples float
free of perspective
in a signature bowl
while a viola draws
the room in dusk.

The rhythm of the dark.
Night is a perspective of the heart.



My Father's Signature

How it swirls across the page,
a series of loops like a planet in orbit,
as though he seeks
a center after seeing its resurrection
a thousand times on paintings
of trees and autumn

leaves adrift in abstract autumn
days, each day unpeeling paint from a page,
each leaf an abstract painting
to encircle this studio, an orbit
of leaves resurrected
like a series of letters seeking

surface after surface, a search
by someone trying to stay, an autumn
refusing to believe in its resurrection
as seed from snow—itself a page
of shapes, each flake only itself, no orbit
of remembrance and return, though a painting

might capture how the earth paints
itself with an absence of color that seeks
to uncover everything from itself, as an orbit
of line in the shape of autumn
reveals dark limbs against the page
he's left blank in spots, resurrecting

stars long dead and resurrected
by distance, a pointillist painting
teaching us to distrust the page,
as he distrusts it, seeking
then discarding it, as autumn
trees discard themselves when our orbit

tilts us from the sun, an orbit
that promises resurrection,
if only as memory of autumn
in the green of the paint
of a fresh season that seeks
to cover winter's blankest page,
the way a signature, in the autumn
of an orbit, seeks a page
on which to paint its resurrection.