by Fleda Brown
Feature image: After Luca Cambiaso. Sibyl in the Clouds, after 1570. The Art Institute of Chicago.
I thought I had hold of something elegant, a luminescent glow
on the lake, a flicker’s flash of headdress high on the tree.
I thought I heard a conversation from over water, someone saying
laissez faire, or Toulouse Lautrec, but it was only guys fishing,
a mishearing that came to me like a ray of light through stained glass,
a shimmer like a fine line of Milton’s, or a landscape by Monet,
applied in layers.
What I wanted was something privately
apprehended, something slowly and privately understood:
elite, yes, I admit it.
A pontoon boat came by and I remembered how old I am,
how I would rather be on one of those, studying the accommodating
landscape as if it were a museum, than on water skis, for example,
terrifyingly public and sudden, which is why I’m fond of
the Turneresque, or of an aspen leaf, half-unhinged over and over,
a sibilance of rhythm that works the atmosphere the way
Noah wavers the sailboat rudder back and forth to inch toward
I don’t know the name for this maneuver.
And when the wind completely stops, there’s the small slurp
against the side of the boat that’s exactly what I mean,
the delicacy of the mundane, observed
and properly incorporated in service to the whole.
Another example at present: the gull has adroitly
caught in its beak the tiny bass Noah just tossed back,
and is carrying it flapping, sunward.