- The Names of Paintings, and: The Pretty
The Birth of Venus is not the birth of Venus, but after two weeks in Italy without my wife, Aura in the arms of the Zephyr looks like my wife. I don’t mind her entwined with that casual grasp of this angelic man who might as well be me in air drifting among the summer’s first full-blown roses, all got up in our gold-leaf wings and two loose robes.
What are we to do with the nude truth of beauty blown to shore? Ignore it? Or restore it with the help of an hour and a little diluted yolk? Effortless, nearly edible, sex on the half shell here needs help, appears forever out of reach and touch except for what wind and light might work on water tossed to land. Dear bored museum guards,
there is open space in the wild June wind today for gestures, and even the substantial doors of Florence slam extra emptiness into the afternoon. Baptized by silk and linen and the smell of rich skin in the open market, I am thinking of how the wind blows a holy hello and a goodbye so you can’t tell the difference sometimes, so tender it cuts your face like a sculptress with her looks. [End Page 131]
Waiting out my walking pneumonia, I am sad I could be happy. Propped in my bed, I moan like a gray horse left in a downpour outside an old hotel. My lungs are gray, my cough is gray. I pray against the water, for the horse, and, delirious, for the unhappy who want more than anything to step into comic books. Did I take for granted going out? Do I take for granted staying in? Where we can find the pretty, preserved in olive oil, we can find the winter light of Andalucía, silver and green come through a window to white and blue. Below, past the new patio of the oldest restaurant on the continent, beyond the collisions of silverware and plates, listen. Someone is cutting mushrooms. You do that. Everyone openly eats the world, and the states and governments bus the tables, or vice versa. Napkins blow down the street while you stand alone with a blade, unaware of your sharp posture, yet very aware of swans. In your kitchen I have waited for you to say, You just wait.
Like Federico on that kitchen footstool below his gypsy nursemaid, listening for another story full of blood and rust and empty spaces, I will listen to a knife. I will wait for hunters on the mountain to come down and appreciate old fire in a kitchen. If you are near, I am happy I can be sad. [End Page 132]
John Poch’s most recent book is Dolls (Orchises, 2009). His poems have recently appeared in Poetry, Agni, Image, and other journals. He is a Professor of English at Texas Tech University.