For Aaron Sheon

Judith Vollmer
"Tiny hatches, if you make enough of them, make

an entire etching move," you told us while we smoked

in the lit cave of your Tuesday 1-2:15. We scratched

our pens: dance & film posters, flyers to end the war. 

In our famous jeans we slouched before your podium & slides weaving

the movements & the solo trips.

"He was lonely." "She had no patron."


"Scale extends us & reins us in," you said of the strange Piranesis.

"Find the heart of a city by stepping in."

My alleys & arcades pressed onto the copperplate of my 20-year-old brain

fusing its hemispheres. I hitched to Colmar and found

the Isenheim Altarpiece, figures on the old panels aflame, then turned

my back on all religions because you'd shown us Goya's firing squad


& Daumier's gutters where people looked for water.

"Movement in a painting is important as Dante."

 I've looked for Dante's houses, cafés, notebooks, & horse-stalls, & someone

always says Oh, you mean The Poet.
                                
"The body doesn't make sense by itself," you said, pointing the red-tip

wand at the chalky nudes of Ingres. If I am lonely


in any town whose museum

treasures its one Whistler or Bonnard, I stand before the image

hear your voice; my eyes

un-scroll, I lift 

again like a hinge.

More by Judith Vollmer

House Spiders

Streetlights out again I'm walking in the dark
lugging groceries up the steps to the porch
whose yellow bulb is about to go too, when a single 
familiar strand intersects my face,
the filament slides across my glasses which seem suddenly
perfectly clean, fresh, and my whole tired day slows down
                   walking into such a giant thread
is a surprise every time,
though I never kill them, I carry them outside
on plastic lids or open books, they live
so plainly and eat the mosquitoes.
                Distant cousins
to the scorpion, mine are pale & small,
dark & discreet. More like the one
who lived in the corner of the old farm kitchen
under the ivy vase and behind the single
candle-pot--black with curved
crotchety legs.
     Maya, weaver of illusions,
     how is it we trust the web, the nest,
     the roof over our heads, we trust the stars
     our guardians who gave us our alphabet?
     We trust the turtle's shell because
     it, too, says house and how can we read
     the footprints of birds on shoreline sand,
     & October twigs that fall to the ground
     in patterns that match the shell & stars?
	 
	 
I feel less and less like
a single self, more like
a weaver, myself, spelling out
formulae from what's given
and from words.

Related Poems

For John Clare

Kind of empty in the way it sees everything, the earth gets to its feet and 
        salutes the sky. More of a success at it this time than most
        others it is. The feeling that the sky might be in the back of someone's
        mind. Then there is no telling how many there are. They grace
        everything--bush and tree--to take the roisterer's mind off his
        caroling--so it's like a smooth switch back. To what was aired in
        their previous conniption fit. There is so much to be seen everywhere
        that it's like not getting used to it, only there is so much it
        never feels new, never any different. You are standing looking at that
        building and you cannot take it all in, certain details are already hazy
        and the mind boggles. What will it all be like in five years' time
        when you try to remember? Will there have been boards in between the
        grass part and the edge of the street? As long as that couple is
        stopping to look in that window over there we cannot go. We feel like
        they have to tell us we can, but they never look our way and they are
        already gone, gone far into the future--the night of time. If we could
        look at a photograph of it and say there they are, they never really
        stopped but there they are. There is so much to be said, and on the
        surface of it very little gets said.
        
 There ought to be room for more things, for a spreading out, like.
        Being immersed in the details of rock and field and slope --letting them
        come to you for once, and then meeting them halfway would be so much
        easier--if they took an ingenuous pride in being in one's blood.
        Alas, we perceive them if at all as those things that were meant to be
        put aside-- costumes of the supporting actors or voice trilling at the
        end of a narrow enclosed street. You can do nothing with them. Not even
        offer to pay.
        
 It is possible that finally, like coming to the end of a long,
        barely perceptible rise, there is mutual cohesion and interaction. The
        whole scene is fixed in your mind, the music all present, as though you
        could see each note as well as hear it. I say this because there is an
        uneasiness in things just now. Waiting for something to be over before
        you are forced to notice it. The pollarded trees scarcely bucking the
        wind--and yet it's keen, it makes you fall over. Clabbered sky.
        Seasons that pass with a rush. After all it's their time
        too--nothing says they aren't to make something of it. As for Jenny
        Wren, she cares, hopping about on her little twig like she was tryin'
        to tell us somethin', but that's just it, she couldn't
        even if she wanted to--dumb bird. But the others--and they in some way
        must know too--it would never occur to them to want to, even if they
        could take the first step of the terrible journey toward feeling
        somebody should act, that ends in utter confusion and hopelessness, east
        of the sun and west of the moon. So their comment is: "No comment."
        Meanwhile the whole history of probabilities is coming to life, starting
        in the upper left-hand corner, like a sail.