I look at an early Degas, and realize that the light shining
through a crack in the door
is a stripe
and the gauze curtains of a window
reflected in a mirror at the back
of the practice room
are simply a wispy rectangle that is, in fact,
on the surface of the canvas, not at the “back”
of anything,
though the piano is definitely
a piano, and the top hat, a hat,
and the dancers as real
as any dancers, meaning
pretty unreal, especially since you can’t, you know,
hear the scuff and pound of feet
that typically reifies their steps, lands, leaps. 

It is a golden room, more ochre than yesterday’s dusk
when a peach swallowed the sky, the fields, the house, even
the garage, and the taillights of a car driving beneath darkening trees
accented the whole
as perfectly
as the violin case in the Degas moves our eyes
to the center of the dance floor
and I thought
why doesn’t someone paint that car,
those tail lights? Our own moments of glow
museum-worthy, at least worth
looking at. 

Yet we/I hold ourselves apart from so many
moments—from taillights bright
as rubies, and peach skies that are
so brief—
We don’t even rehearse, simply hold
ourselves in reserve, waiting for a mirror
to fill the foreground, and for light from a crack in a door
that we keep quite closed.

But (in the middle of these woes),
the morning, this very morning, smiles
its hello’s,
and the painting (exasperated) says to keep
on my toes,
and time, cutting in, gives me another chance
at the dance,
so many stripes
of light.


Another poem for today, based in part upon an early painting of Degas in the Metropolitan Museum, called the Dancing Class.  (The link to the painting is there.)  It is something I looked at as part of a wonderful drawing class taught by Peter Hristoff, an artist/professor at SVA, and Alice Schwartz, a curator at the Met. 

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3 Comments on “Realization/Question”

  1. M Says:

    K, really a marvelous ekphrasis. Your observations help us see this – and other color before us – in a new way. ~

  2. Peter Hristoff Says:

    Wow. What a beautiful interpretation of a beautiful painting.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Peter, thanks so much. I am always very rushed before the class, so it takes me a little time to get settled in, but I have been really enjoying it. Thanks again for all your inspiration! k.

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