Monday, February 1, 2010

"Landscape with Farmer," by Henri Rousseau

Steering Wheel
by Jorie Graham


In the rear-view mirror I saw the veil of leaves
suctioned up by a change in current
and how they stayed up, for the allotted time,
in absolute fidelity to the force behind,
magenta, hovering, a thing that happens,
slowly upswirling above the driveway
I was preparing to back clear out of—
and three young pine trees at the end of that view
as if aghast with bristling stillness—
and the soft red updraft without hesitation
aswirl in their prickly enclosing midst—
and on the radio I bent to press on,
a section with rising strings plugging in,
crisp with distinctions, of the earlier order.
Oh but I haven’t gotten it right.
You couldn’t say it was matter.
I couldn’t say it was sadness.
Then a hat from someone down the block
blown off, rolling—tossing—across the empty macadam,
an open mouth, with no face round it,
O and O and O and O—
“we have to regain the moral pleasure
of experiencing the distance between subject and object,”
—me now slowly backing up
the dusty driveway into the law
composed of updraft, downdraft, weight of these dried
                                                           mid-winter leaves,
light figured in too, I’m sure, the weight of light,
and angle of vision, dust, gravity, solitude,
and the part of the law which is the world’s waiting,
and the part of the law which is my waiting,
and then the part which is my impatience—now; now?—
though there are, there really are,
things in this world, you must believe me.

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