Cézanne in Aix: Poetry

Lisa Hartz

A man can live on poetry alone in fine weather, he writes.

Wood lark. Blue rock-thrush. Two-tailed Pasha butterfly.

 

Nightjar emerging from the bracken. For some days now,

a determined rain. Bleak dawn, blackened evening. Beneath

 

all this: tamped grasses, red soil. Limestone shell. Very soon,

the mistral. Cleansing wind. Nightfishing with Delphin

 

in the tidal pools. Field scent, harmony. Sleep of the earth.

It’s easier all this, than painting, he writes. But it doesn’t lead far.

 

Once, he leaned among the bastards arguing Ingres in the overlit café.

His trousers held up with string. Now, when he drinks he sees spirits

 

swaying just beyond his reach. Dancing, dancing. Enough to smash

everything. Outside the Provençal trees hum their secrets. The sun

 

eases across the rasping field. Stifling room. Infinite placements. Fabric

crests and spurs. The ginger jar, inconstant muse. All dissipate, move on. Death

 

murmurs from ear to hand. The pear breathes green, thrums

against the apple balanced on a coin. Dapple viridian. Layer

 

the body in. This vermilion tips the sable brush. What’s known

of Nature? Membrane over membrane. Veil upon veil. Life composed

 

of a series of screens. Clouds without abruption. The day diffuses. No pleasure

in this labor. Salt scent under creeping evening. What lies within?

 

Nothing. Perhaps everything.

Everything, do you see?

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