A picture carries everywhere its own light and shade. I find you crosshatched in a self-portrait in
which night and day mingle. Walking to the museum to greet the competing work of Copley and
Sargent in their own terms, we pretend to be as small and shy as if just plucked from the tree. I
note that the sidewalk crumples where you’ve stepped, and dark bleeds from rifts in the concrete.
I’ve never had that effect on anything. But then you’re a picture, not a person, and the crisp
delineation of your features drifts into pentimento. That’s why the concrete fractures with
empathy: to reveal the earth below. I can’t assay the effect, but I accept it, and we walk up broad
marble steps to the entrance, where a huge Egyptian figure stares blindly into a desert six
thousand miles away. We flash our red membership cards at unsmiling guards. One recognizes
you from something he saw hanging on a wall. But he waves us in, maybe hoping that because
you carry everywhere your own light and shade you’ll apply yourself to the proper gallery
without any fuss. I doubt that you’ve ever made a fuss, even when years ago you found your
colors drying too slowly. Now your surface has annealed like glass, your absolute aesthetic
pertains to everything, and your light and shade crosshatch in such fine lines I don’t know how to
see you.

 

WILLIAM DORESKI lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has published three critical studies. His poetry has appeared in many journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His new poetry collection is A Black River, A Dark Fall (Splash of Red, 2018).