David Wright’s first poetry collection A Liturgy of Stones was pub-lished by Cascadia in 2003. His latest collection is The Small Books of Bach by Wipf & Stock. Poems have appeared in Ecotone, Image, Bluestem, and Poetry East, among others. He lives in Champaign, Illinois, and has taught in the English Department at the University of Illinois since 2006. Link to Wright’s essay “A Few Worries about Being a Poet” here.
Two Suppers at Emmaus by Caravaggio
The worm in the apple gnaws the fruit away,
and the dressed fowl the men have devoured
by the time Caravaggio remembers the inn-keeper
and his creased wife, the finer linens
and the pitcher as detailed as the Gospel of Luke,
and the ridiculously large ears of Cleopas.
What fierce blaze gets fired and glazed
the air with his midrash of pigment and time?
What light layers enough shadow over years?
I am inventing this last part; the rest you could have
read or been shown on your own:
Caravaggio once punched a drunk in the head
and saw Jesus as the man's flesh dented
beneath his fist like a warm loaf. For five years,
the stranger rose again and again in Caravaggio's eye.
In the Vernacular Gallery
Art Institute of Chicago
|Country Preacher, 1860/90, |
white pine. Artist Unknown.
Hanging quilt and the gazes of the carved half-dozen
prows of ships and this preacher, upright and upholding
the opened and planed smooth Word of God in his lap,
he fixes his hollowed eyes past the book, on a particular
point of sight, devotional turn for the wooden minds
in his care. Or recollects a work song from before the war
and feels its hum in his brow and high cheeks that betray
the grain of southern white pine, deep gouges of chisel
and time. I am praying to him now, that the split in his spine
will hold. That like his arms blessed tight to his trunk, he will
keep his own counsel until the Spirit fires him alive as the free
hand and eye of the vernacular maker whose sermon he is.
Plague of ladybugs, plague of the suburbs
Gathered in my beard, on your skin,
in the mouths of bottles.
their speckled bodies--Mexican beetle,
Asian beetle, domestic bodies--no one
On my sweater,
this one, a jewel in a vestment,
The several on my hands
like orange paint from a brush--
red oils, striated, enameled.
The ends of my fingers a brush--
Pollock with ladybugs,
Pollock with a canvas of sky.