Why knowing is (& Matisse's Woman with a Hat)

Why knowing is a quality out of fashion and no one can decide to
but slips into it or ends up with a painting one has never
seen that quality of light before even before having seen it
in between pages of another book and not remembering who knows
or recognizing the questionable quality of light on her face
as she sits for a portrait and isn't allowed to move an inch
you recognize the red silk flower on her hat
and can almost place where you have seen that gray descending
through the light reversing foreground and background
as the directions escape one as the way you have to
live with anyone as she gets up finally from her chair
having written the whole of it in her head as the question
ignored for the hundredth time as a quality of knowing is
oddly resuscitated from a decade prior to this.

More by Martha Ronk

A blurry photograph

The tree azalea overwhelms the evening with its scent,
defining everything and the endless fields.

Walking away, suddenly, it slices off and is gone.

The visible object blurs open in front of you,
the outline of a branch folds back into itself, then clarifies—just as you turn away—

and the glass hardens into glass

as you go about taking care of things abstractedly
one thing shelved after another, as if they were already in the past,

needing nothing from you until, smashing itself on the tile floor,
the present cracks open the aftermath of itself.

Location LA

Never arriving in a city missing in locational drift
plates shifting under building facades and whipped décor,
seas rising and falling at the edge of amusements
and surf. The migrations migrating elsewhere,
monarchs lost on their way south, children coming north
in droves on their way to anywhere else.
The city of lost souls blowing in the Santa Ana winds
and people who are not us no matter who we are.
Where is she now, he asks, what ever happened to the girl
named for a saint, the one with the ankle tattoo
the one who dropped out, lost out, & only just arrived.

Take #2

Does staring into the black and white contours of a photo
enable a rapprochement with the unreality of one’s own life,
a way to see peculiarity as a back staircase in an old house in a city
so memorably far, dark but navigable, the stairs lacking undulation,
items strewn across a landscape, fixed and determined,
the borders of history and frame set and watching her feet going up and down,
counting the risers that are always 16 despite the deformations of dreams,
always scuffed and smelling of dust, the taste of a local architect
influenced by city regulations and his sense of propriety and then turning
the page to an image of the purported documents of an ordinary scene,
a few weeds wavering in the foreground and the jagged outlines against a sky,
a 7pm time of day, summer, a particular dry rush of air,
and a cutout of one’s own days called up, and the inability to get at
the unlocatable bereavement left on the stairs to be carried up when you go.