Fall, 2007

Ioanna Warwick

Two Poems

For Bjorn

These hills want you. The sudden deer
stop as if astonished by your sculptures.
It's March, the first drops of rain.
You put together two or three
shafts of wood, the souls of trees

married to the space around our sleep.
A cowl around your head,
you could be a monk,
growing more vertical and hewn
until one day, by storm-light,
you will have become your work.

Here we moo back to the cows,
there's spring-moist grass,
trilliums by the stream and redwood sorrel;
nights so dark one can see a star
a million light years away.

I enter waterfalls of ferns,
the corollas of unknown
wildflowers. Below,
the ocean’s pale sunset gold.
A ship seems to hang in the clouds,
then disappears into a fogbank.

Your sculptures, Bjorn:
the flight of hawks,
gray eyes of lichen on rocks,
ruined cities of moss;
redwoods sailing the fog
like resurrected Viking ships –

The flow of wood
guides your hand,
the red-stained grain
so silent I begin
to imagine its sound,
a primeval syllable
older than the first word –

In my childhood I learned
the opposite of art is dictatorship,
the generals saluting
from a flag-draped platform.
Art, the shock of a shape that insists
something within the rim of our breath
knows more than we do.

Here’s to this
unsayable language –
to the hills, to the ocean,
to the ship in the clouds;
to the artists defeating
generals; to silence.

Mona Lisa

I see her and move
a few steps to the right.
She slyly looks at me

with her sideways glance.
I slowly circle her; her eyes
with slight amusement

follow me around.
Those eyes are more than
immortal –

those painted eyes are alive.
Master, what made you know
how to change paint into soul?

“Observe the craft,” he replies.
“Layers of glaze so thin
they glow with a tender light.

Note the fabric of the sleeve,
how soft – see – this is love – ”
And he flows back into her

coronal of imaginary
Alps, pure archaic peaks,
a hushed congregation –

Behind her, a coiling path;
and barely, barely, a veil.
between her and the light.

He is silent now, while she
looks on forever, in subtlest
of sfumato hues.

Some say the secret is
that she is pregnant.
That we need that hidden

other life. An unknown
self whose heartbeat
we can sense inside.

Note the crescent
arches of the bridge. Observe
smoky tendrils of golden-green sky.