Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Chagall’s Song of Songs III

The inverted splash of a yellow church
With a turquoise bell tower drives
The color the earth shares with the sky,
A purple reign not even Prince imagined
When he threw his Mad Cat Anderson
Up in the air in a tribute for George Harrison.
Some riff that gently weeps and will not end
As it bubbles also in the bridal pansies
Carried in one hand. Circles like the orbs
You used to dip and blow, the slippery suds
Bursting over the pipe’s one plastic bulb,
A purple concentricity sung in unison

By everyone, unheard by anyone because
This is, after all, only a village gathering
In a brushed Talmudic oil. They field around
Their favorite fauvist lick, gather in the silence
The sun a tambourine refracted in diamonds
On the floor of a pool where you spent
A summer’s heat one afternoon. The bride’s veil
Cups the ecclesiastic torch of her red hair,
A winged candelabra rises above the cornucopia
Of a jaundiced moon, upside down and fallen
In the lake below. Even now you hear their vows
Curve in a dark blue groom along her shore.

Upright in their ceremony, they reappear
Doubled in white at the edge of the canvas,
Spooning each other in the moment just after.
Maybe only in this altered cleaving
A peace that passes its own sense and season.
The town sends its accompaniment
Through a woodwind to a painter’s fingertips.
He tilts his easel, teaching his few students.
Below them, the wrong way up, where love
Burdens sorrow, in water, or on it,
An old man’s cane probes the hidden place
Where an artist threw his instrument, high above
The king’s staged son. When it never fell back down,

Seemed to disappear, no one ever shared
The sleight of hand that simply vanished
Above the crowd when the backstage crew
Reached for that strummed flung sound.
(It hung in the scaffolding like a kid
Flipped on the high bar of a jungle gym,
Veiled utterly by the open curtain’s fringe.)
The stunned stars milled around as the last
Note dropped. When Prince slipped off
Leaving a reverberating hole in the air
Even Chagall’s crowned mythic beast,
Llama-like, craned its head to look again.  

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