after Richard Diebenkorn
So if in the beginning the word was only a small fraction of the phrase that was a fraction of a sentence so large its infinitesimal exclamation is the little bang before a bigger whimper—what if that one word was something so common as to be unknowable? Consider the word blue, you said. What we understand of blue is minute compared to the mantis shrimp or even the yellow finch you find roosting in a neighbor's sunflower, when climbing the hill after a run, exhausted, you pass the garden and from it the finch bursts, a word out of a citrine paragraph, into the blue which is one whole page torn from a diary. We are so fraught, you said, looking out our little studio windows at a scrap of ocean; it's better just to paint what we see, bisected by a reflection in the glass, pier running perpendicular to a boardwalk voided of all action; action is, moreover, to apply constraints to our vision. But, I said, we'd read more if we could. Think of A Patch of Blue, you said, that Sidney Poitier picture about the blind girl consigned to afternoons under an oak in a little urban park, threading beads what for, who knows, and her mother who hates her just because. She and Sidney meet. They walk and talk. What she sees of him is just shadow in relief, but with her hands she reads his face. It says, blue blue blue blue. [End Page 355]
Lesley Jenike's first collection is Ghost of Fashion. Her poems have appeared or will appear soon in Poetry, The Tampa Review, and The Gettysburg Review. She serves as chair of the English and philosophy department at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio.