AN OLD ROMAN DOOR These quiet siennas and greys contain a certain passion . . . the passion for time. The moulding formed by hands that may have had no vocation for eternity, still the oak leaves thereon bespeak what in nature may well endure: this contradiction that is time . . . how we pass here as if to gain some pure satisfaction, yet the door through form distills its truth: thirst uncondemned. THE DRAWINGS OF LEONARDO He often emphasized the price of art is that price heaven exacts in labor for its gifts. I look at this analytic yet delicate charcoal of daylilies, and then the hairlike, wavy coils of deluge over the Alps, which preoccupied him in later life. Why does the magical mind care so much for anatomy, for an ossature, a geometry, even the engines of war as if it could see in the very powers of destruction a deeper assemblage to things which shy light and air will only touch as the Virgin her child, pondering secretly the vulnerability of all purpose? Curious that when these things return our gaze, the enigmatic madonna, the flowers’ soft elegance, with fantasy, with half-acheing fantasy they seem to see clouds. KALI THE DESTROYER for David Gugen Do we perceive the spirit, the mere breath, only when we’re tired, too tired to sustain the jealous unreason of the rational who will affirm no reasons, yearning, or hatred, or tenderness? I watch our cat come across the dim patio tonight and the wind rises as she leaps onto the table, here where flowerpots have stayed through winter, a few dry leaves blowing and the oil cloth to confirm the old, incorruptible habit of nature, the inconsolable wind who will not abandon her cruel ones to their envy, their dream of she sniffs the black stems for perhaps the thousandth time. Without focus. The pupils of her eyes, the delicate electric sheath of her brain are hardly of one mind, of one purpose. So she can turn from each thing she perceives, and still abandon nothing. A GOLD SWATH The sound of leaves blowing down the streets. Stevens said it is without human meaning. And yet if inhuman still infused with the breath of the unknown as sunlight is sometimes stained by high, thin clouds. Such emptiness as we may know. I do not mean the absolute void of the Buddhists, but in the mind’s gravitation toward pattern, toward a design to things there is a sense in which the design is superfluous, beside the point. One thinks of the way old Japanese artisans would paint a gold swath around the crack of some ancient and honored vase, knowing that perfection does no more than open our eyes. Poems by Prentiss Moore OF ANOTHER WORLD I remember when my piano teacher played me a prelude by Chopin as an example of perfection, how little I understood then and looked around the rich darkness of her studio, the mementos of Czerny and Clementi, the great floral arrangement next to the piano like a silent, still explosion. She was quite old and could recite the lineage of her teachers which went back to Mozart. She admired my passion in playing, but emphasized that strength was merely to make the notes as hard as stone, and this, she said intently, was not a matter of volume, but of silence. She always spoke thus and would then touch my hand lightly at the keys, both as a kind of warning and as another sign, indefinable yet firm. I think perfection and silence to her were not, as they are to the philosopher, of another world. Prentiss Moore is a native Texan and has published poems in Poetry, Arion, and The Garden in Winter and Other Poems from UT Press in 1981. 20 AUGUST 31, 1984
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