Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Silence Is So Accurate, Rothko Wrote

Accurate like an arrow without a target
and no target in mind.

Silence has its own roar or, not-roar,
just as Rothko wrote “I don’t express myself
in my paintings. I express my not-self.”

A poem that expresses the not-self.
Everything but the self.
The meadow’s veil of fog, but is veil self-referential?

Already, dawn, the not-birds alert to what silence has to offer.

The fog, one of Rothko’s shapes,
hanging there in the not-self, humming.

Mikel, before he died, loved Rothko most.
When he could still think, he put his mind
to those sorts of judgments.

If I pull the fog away like theater curtains, what then?

Sadness shapes the landscape.
The arrow of myself thwacks the nearest tree.
Fog steps closer like a perpetrator or a god.

Oh. I’m weeping.
Tears feed the silence like a mother drops
into her baby not-bird’s open beak

some sweet but dangerous morsel.

Credit


From Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl (Graywolf Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Diane Seuss. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press.

Author


Diane Seuss

Diane Seuss’s most recent collection is frank: sonnets (Graywolf Press, 2021). Seuss is a professor and editor. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Date Published: 2018-04-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/silence-so-accurate-rothko-wrote