Chaïm Soutine: The Errant Road, 1939

as if a road could be otherwise but geometry
defies the man who is lost on the road that
the trees want to reach and reach down
to his walking on
along a verticality that defies
the requirements of normative perspective
and so he will reach, and the trees against chalk—
the gesture of the arm extended is central
to all Soutine’s work be it a branch or an ache
or a split of the face, going off. In this case
can you say that a man is lost just because
you cannot distinguish him from the background.

Copyright © 2016 by Cole Swensen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 22, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.