Of all the pigments Rembrandt combined with stock-

yard bone black including:
envisioned here first
    in honor of NASA’s announcement this morning
of the discovery of water
    on the sunlit surface of the moon I just ran

down the stairs to share
    the shimmering news of with
Nick; found him asleep
    on the couch; what day is it?
October 26, 2020, 2 p.m.;
    a blue moon is rising on Halloween,

a few days from today,
    and the day after that, daylight saving ends
marking the beginning of
    the winter period of
the squandering of sacred darkness,
    and next Tuesday, Election

Day in America, as good a time as any
    to confess I don’t know what to do
about the fact that the Now I keep
    rising to the surface of
keeps changing
    in the course of this

poem while time courses through me,
    as when
a teenager swimming with friends in an
    unsupervised backyard pool we didn’t
skinny-dip nearly enough in but
    into which I plunged once alone through

an aqueous, unforgiving kingdom of light
    that penetrated to
the lowest depths
    I held my breath to madness to behold,
coming up for air I
    knew I would never belong to my

friends again, there on the pool deck, beautiful, tan, laughing
    about something someone said, and then
someone arrives with a cooler of his
    father’s beer, and
someone else hands me a towel,
    as if

I am a body;
called “cobalt” when taking the temporary form
    of a bottle on a shelf,
a blue ground glass phase-transitioned from liquid
    after being plunged into ice; ochers and

umbers of the earth
    in cave paintings depicting
among a herd of wild goats, a goat
    on two feet, taut below the pelt of which, a bow I
cannot see, but a microscope reveals
    fretwork in

the baroque exoskeletons of
that at one millimeter per century
    over seventy million years built up
soaring vertical chalk deposits
    like the Cliffs of

Dover where chalk is extracted
    and exported
and chemical analysis detects traces of at the bottom of
    an almost intact clay pot
found in a cesspit
    under Rembrandt’s house; reds are the

most forsaken—unbearable gash-bright
prepared according with modern Dutch method
    in a “retort,” a specialized
bent-neck lab vessel resembling
    the head of a waterbird

in which sulfur
    and cinnabar in its quickliquid
mercurial form
    heat together to a vapor
that crystallizes and gets scraped out
    as in a D&C a deep slaughterhouse red

blazing the huntsmen’s coats,
    robes of Saint Jerome,
and the vivid, burning gowns
    of how many tragic, triumphant
inexperienced married widow
    experienced virgin untitled English

French Dutch titled American women, turned out
    at home, in private parks, public halls,
dancing and strolling,
    reclining and standing,
throughout the Museum
    in a time-darkened darkening shade

of volcanic activity
    in oblivious vermilion reluctant acknowledgment
of the Spanish convicts and
    enslaved North Africans
who died extracting it
    from the same mine whence comes

imperceptible trace bleeding
    from an incision in the neck
of a Bronze Age Cycladic figure
    which ultraviolet light
trained like a knife at the jugular
      makes perfectly clear.          Who told

you that
    one paints with emotions?
One makes use of emotions,

    but only paints with material.
                                                    I love
                                                                to touch
                                                                             this world.

Reprinted from Information Desk: An Epic by Robyn Schiff. Copyright © 2023 by Robyn Schiff. Used with permission of the publisher, Penguin Random House. All rights reserved.