In a Museum, by Dan Blum
Eight at night
The water lilies in the dawn
The fishermen at dusk are gone
The guard extinguishes the light
And from the room of Rodin nudes
A gentle moaning now exudes
And fills the dark and ghostly halls
With a lover’s plaintive calls
And down in the curator’s lair
Amid a musty underworld
I hear the steps descend the stair.
Beside the bust of Pluto (under repair)
The feet, the legs, the face appear
It is the girl from that stunning Vermeer
“You have come,” I say,
“How long I have waited for this day!”
And in the vale that rests
Between the slopes of shawl that cross her breasts,
That ruby jewel Vermeer four hundred years ago had placed,
As though to mark the spot a kiss had graced
And say to all the eyes of history -
Student, disciple, admirer
Who love a mystery
It was her lover did sire her.
And then those locks of golden hair!
Strange to see them now untrussed
And free in the evening air
Yet otherwise it is just
As I had dreamed –
Dreamed, imagined, known
It would be, known from the way
She would turn her stare to me alone
Even on a Saturday
Of crowds and conversation,
And share some silent intimation,
Hint of something spied, appraised
Of certain possibilities raised.
“How long,” I say, “how long I’ve gazed,
Amid the coughs and rumbles and sighs,
Back through the centuries, into your eyes.
How many times I’ve looked at you and said,
You will be mine if I must join the dead
How fast this mortal coil would I shed
To kiss your fine and constant brow,
(Once compared to a galleon’s prow)
And wed your tender lips to mine!
We are one forever now.”
The look she casts upon me then!
So strange and soft and tender-eyed,
Innocent and somehow sage,
And smiling from deep inside
As though she held some ancient truth
Yet all the freshness of eternal youth.
“It cannot be,”
She gently says. “I fear
There are restrictions placed on me.
It was not easy coming here.”
Still, the sadness of her eyes,
Do they not say,
“You must persuade me and you may?”
And so I plead.
“We’ll fly beneath an El Greco sky
So fast the stars we shall outpace
We shall escape all space
And wind up deep in Fragonard,
Rest an hour out of sight
Bathe within a dappled lake
And again take flight,
Reach Delacroix by day
Slip through Whistler by night
And sleep when we have reached Monet.”
She smiles. “You dream.”
Are dimpled lightly at the tips.
“Now hear what I have come to say,
That though we may exchange a passing nod
Or smile a certain way
Know how it is
That it cannot, can never be
That I am eternally his.”
With that she slowly turns away,
Quietly ascends the stair,
Her footfalls stir the hallowed air,
And echo through the upper hall,
Fade to a distant, ghostly call
She is there
At her place on the gallery wall.
Why Poetry on Medieval Scottish Time Travel Blog?
Why poetry? I will write more on Why poetry? later. The answer ties into my work on Theology of Music and the broader question of why art in our lives at all. I would rather say briefly (so the poem can stand on its own):
Why Dan's poetry?
Humor. Artistry. Craft.
I have read a number of Dan's poems and am always amazed at the skill and craft he brings to poetry, the way the lines, rhythm, and rhymes all seem to flow so effortlessly and roll off the tongue. They tell stories or paint pictures, and always with grace and humor.
Watch for more poetry to come, from many sources.
about the author
His first book, Lisa 33, a satirical work, was published by Viking with a six-figure advance. His second book, a humorous, tragic, and poignant work of literary fiction, The Feet Say Run, was published December 2016 by Gabriel's Horn Press.
You can find more of his writing at his Rotting Post blog.
- February 19 and 26: I'll be reading on the Vehicle of Expression, part of the Art Shanty Project
- February 25, 2017: I will co-host Food Freedom on AM 950 with Laura Hedlund and Karen Olson Johnson. Guests: Michael Agnew, craft beer expert and Ross Fishman on Russian literature. We'll taste Russian beer: listen to the whole program from last month.
To learn more about my books, click on the images below.
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