Poem 3

ABSORPTION                                                                     Fugue

I wish I could tell you more about the man

bent over the drawing of his daughters

Sofi a a nd Sonia, how like Saint Bartholomew

in Rembrandt’s painting, the man becomes so intent

that his pencil is now another finger,


and the man himself leaves, as though absorption

in what one loves calls the being from the body,

and being, the only true state, shapes the careful eyes

and lips of his girls. I would like to tell you the man’s name,

but I am sworn to silence on the prisoners I work with.


Were it possible to portray the man

accurately, his skin sewn in a tight weave

of tattoos, I would start with his eyes,

tell you how I see in them the brown loaves of bread

his mother made, his mouth about to form what he is unable to say.


What we cannot utter must write its meaning elsewhere—

the fragments of language building the innovative.

If there is a heaven of words, or at the very least

a storage place, what goes unspoken must send its roots


into a future we know nothing about.                                                               

It’s yard recall, but the man, still absorbed, draws

his daughters, his head so close to the paper

that he could be outlining himself—

the shapes of their lovely mouths,

butterflies with spread wings.

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