after Richard Diebenkorn
There is a figure in a landscape with no figure,
if only because we look for him behind the elm,
above the snow line, or along the marshy creek,
or on the white sand polished by sapphire seas,
if only because we look at it, and see the spur
steering the mountain’s floating hulk a whaler’s helm,
and see the fleeting torso of a marbled Greek
in the cloud hurling the discus sun into our eyes,
and wide in its deliberate curvature, the river
bend its bow till the ends clap, palm to shining palm,
despite the thunderstorm, despite the cracked and bleak
stumps, clap in blue applause manifest destiny.
And you, love, turning fifty as around a corner,
watching the vanishing point of every painted realm,
you’re thinking of your fading father, as we speak
of early hardships, breakthroughs, late discoveries.
Paint, like its painter, must fade, but between the fir,
cached in the middle of an unattended calm,
there is a lake that looks nothing like a lake—
no boats, no water, no shore, no concavity.
We know it for a lake only because we were
there, briefly, and the bodies we lugged breathed a psalm,
know it is wet, deep, because finding what we seek
we hurled our bodies in, and there was jubilee.