It must be abstract

Forthcoming The Wallace Stevens Journal   

It Must Be Abstract

For Charles Altieri, finishing on a line from Wittgenstein


From form to shape
our world is partly whole
by seeing what thought feels
to see the sun not as it simply is
but by all we desire to see it as
as if to fill a void of overwhelming light
her eye finds shapes in cloud
bright cumuli amassing figures
by sense beyond the sensible
Phoebus in his car with diamond wheel
lost among the guffaw of the crowd
as the artist might draw
from silk the colour red
and clasp her as a lover to his heart
or the poet who draws
a drop of blood from stone
are but modulations from a sound
where shifting her split skirt
her voice and dance can flatter
either verb or noun, her supple
moves borrowed from a tune
played on W’s Steinway
to yield a self, a subject vibrant
in the world of ordinary fact
like sitting in a bar next to death
crossing and uncrossing her legs
where all that is the case is true
objects arching giant spines
across space as time as we imagine it;
not as we could know a self that is
but as it is: a whole cloud of philosophy
condensed into a drop of grammar.