Gauguin Contemplates Failure
The goal was to give weight to vision, to press
toward inertia, opacity: the clang of a hard shoe
against stony ground, the open gaze of a clay pot
arrived from the voiceless past. What climbs
out of earth's maw must be wrestled, not explained.
I prefer to work with stone or wood.
In Peru, they kept madmen chained to the roofs
of wealthier houses. One perched over my bedroom.
Once I woke to shades of the moon in his gaze, silence.
After a lifetime, a frozen minute, he clambered back.
The curtains didn't move, swagged
with moonlight, with curtainlight.
Even more than carving, to print from woodblocks—
see, I have to roll on the bed to produce the image.
It is myself I press to the paper, myself alone—
each morning I dig, deep and deeper, into the dramas
of my own creation until there is no separating: I am
Gauguin, and he is me: a whispering of leaves, a shade.