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  • Self-portrait, With Epiphany to Come, and: After Hearing That I Am Not a “Poet of the Imagination”
  • Greg Rappleye (bio)

for Matthea Harvey

Self-portrait, With Epiphany to Come

How the portrait changes, depending on where you stand. The background split between indigo sky and yellow clapboard, the subject in blues and flesh tones, jean jacket over his frayed shirt, tired around his hazel eyes but looking straight at the painter— [End Page 37] a torso in its middle years. Thus has the Lord dealt with me, in the dayswherein he looked on me. Blues for grief, earth tones because he’s made of earth, burnt sienna and cadmium green, as if the man is wholly finished disavowing the odds. Note the painter’s obsession, how he goes back to his blues, lost in the sad octaves. And just there—an ill-lit cloud, the slight turbulence in a brush stroke— you’ll find an angel, fluttering to wake. Not that the painter wanted this— how could he? Not a canvas set to erupt, not that damn shiny creature come again to speak.

After Hearing That I Am Not a “Poet of the Imagination” for Matthea Harvey

I go back to the blueberry field with Olga and Juan, with Maria and Little Jake. I park again in the beater line, joining the crew that picks the fruit they call Heavenly Sweet. When we pause along the windbreak, hands dark with the berries’ blood, I talk about a man [End Page 38] driving at night along the coast. Olga’s daughter—straw hat, flannel shirt, shy and beautiful—says, “This man; he truly loved the woman?” I answer “Yes.” Then Julio clears his phlegmy throat to ask, “Your life after you left us, Counselor, it was taken from you?” I answer “Yes.” Then I drink with them from the metal urn— water so cold, Little Jake swears God is drunk on it— and pick through the afternoon, not wanting a field beyond this field— so green, so blue and paradisal.

Greg Rappleye

Greg Rappleye’s second book of poems, A Path Between Houses (U of Wisconsin P), won the Brittingham Prize. His work has recently appeared in the Greensboro Review, Bellingham Review, and the Southern Poetry Review.



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pp. 37-39
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