Lost in the pageantry of a landscape,
your view grows arctic, your heart
a burnished fog, burying foundations,
reaching all the way into water,
rivers and tributaries that glowed
like tongues during your better moods.
This is the 15th century, you tell me.
Somewhere in Southeast-Asia, you
explain. Forgotten maps reimagined
as something close to real, closed
to authentication from actual records—
you're free to dream up the past,
to compose a once-invisible world
of lake, mountain and inexhaustible sky.
Yet these images fail to conceal
your mental weather. Whoever says
that art's not necessarily about the artist
is lying. Let us return to our present
century just this once, and point
to an image to ask why innocent slopes
are poisoned green in your eyes.
(Was it something I said the morning
we fought over how late you came home?
I'm whining, of course. My best trait,
as you have pointed out.) Observe
the blue of the lake there, such blue you
intensified because the seed of a suppressed
melancholy flowered into despair...
Then when I meditate (isn't this what
you demand of the audience, to dwell
on the work, so as to remember?)
on this clear sky here, I think about
when we first met. But I guess I should
really talk about history, and how
in your photographs there are no boats
on the water, no man squatting on land,
no eagle scouring the calm between clouds.
Is this how you long to envision
the planet — tabula rasa, reclaimed from
civilisation, its clawing, polluting ways?
Is there peace here that you think you lack?
What would you say if I told you we
could be there right now, dividing twilight
between us, climbing up the ribs
of a hill, arm-in-arm, the unwelcome
whispers of the past no longer taunting us
from below, because we are so high up?
Or should I throw all hope onto the ice
and empty cold, the apocalyptic sights
we return to more than once, what is
left of Asia after many centuries of snow.
Or what the inside of our minds must
look like, when nothing can be done
to save our love, before what is certain
repeats itself, repeated even before we are
made ready: the process of thaw
like a long, languorous ache, the earth
undressing to meet the sun like a child,
as the world discovers how to begin again.