Amy Nawrocki

An Agenda Less Substantial Than Sight

Driving down the parkway trying to scratch
something from the mind, how the rain
and the slickness of the road escapes quickly
and what the thaw means.
You had been saying how cold
it has been between us lately. Not thinking
of the drive ahead—a car turned over
on its side has been placed there
by some immense hand, the first stroke
made by a painter on an empty canvas.
An ambulance, and the first color is red.

This is what Turner meant with his fires.
Not boats, not a singular bird,
charcoal at the base of the canvas, not
strokes of white forced in the background.
But the fire, smack
in the middle, drawing the eye like a dart.

It must be an ending, though,
Burial at Sea, because you know
which stroke must have come first.
Sometimes eyes wish they had an agenda
less substantial than sight,
so as not to see the flame’s inner glow,
or the turmoil within a stroke.
A way to see such that shadows
could be separated from light.


Poem is based on Burial at Sea by J.M.W. Turner.


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