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  • Sight Lines
  • Brian Swann (bio)

I'd take you up the road and show you Picasso's Tomato Planton my wall, but I won't. You don't really know me and you might notrecognize me since I've let my hair grow long in front and back as ifI didn't know which way I was heading. But is the fool's walkthe only one that leads to enlightenment? And if so, as I sit on this rockwhy does day's last light leap around like an ibex? Is it signaling somethingto me of great importance, or searching for something? Is it celebrating aboutto be extinguished and lost, as if getting lost would be an achievementwhen just about everyone and everything is lost, weighing on me withtheir absence so merely trying to think about them makes it worse.And what of all those just waiting for words to make them whole again,as if I can remember anything I don't even know for sure existed?I search for meaning which it's clear is hiding something, and so,it seems, am I. The person you see isn't the one here, or there.Thinking all this might make me aware but not what I'm aware of.Life is not a diary or journal. It's flowing and flashing all over the place,which is how I just recalled leaning my head over the top of the stairsyears ago and calling into the empty well for my mother. ''Oh,'' I said,''I'm sorry. I'll go away. I'll get a grip. I'll try harder. I'll try someone else.''Which I did, and that's how I came across art's waking dream with Picasso'spainting of a slightly droopy tomato plant in a funny-shaped pot,leaning against windowpanes, three small fruit, one ripe, two not,stem tied with twine to a stick, this sun-dappled painting going nowherethat spoke to me. So, yes, I'd like to share it, if it's still there, butI think I'll sit here a bit longer on this large boulder, a granite erraticamong flat bluestone, brought a vast distance from who knows wherein an ice sheet and dropped here all by itself when the energy leftthe ice. I'm looking about for markers to show me more than myself, [End Page 97] searching from a fixed point in a sea of green and sky since the longerthe sight line the more accurate the observation here at the head ofhis valley near the beaver pond where the beavers were shot out formaking themselves too much at home, flooding the road andcutting me completely off. I was the one who shot them but the roadis still washed out. And I was the one who would have picked the last,the only, red tomato, the one full of sun, broken the windowsto let in more or for the plant to escape and play on its own termsbecause here where I now sit light has died and the moon's just risen.It is hard to make out her complicated movements which, so I read,in one month echo the sun's year. It takes ten years to see her rise in allpossible directions in her nineteen-year cycle which produced great culturesand stone circles and monuments that tried to contain time in the timeless.If this takes too long, and Picasso's not to your taste, I also have Constable'sSalisbury Cathedral from the Meadows above my desk though I seldomshow it because it's very personal, intimate even, so much so it seemsto be projected inside my skull, flickering there, the church's great spirepointing clear, the rainbow stretching up and across storm clouds andending before the downturn, out of sight. I pick out the little dog not evenitself but quoted from another painting, and the bow-wagon dead center trailingwhite impasto trails as if going somewhere and wanting to be trackedso it would know...


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pp. 97-98
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