It’s Not the Day I See
The Mediterranean tilts her shoulder,
offers a nipple. This evening
the pier is quiet, stacks of houses
soften in the air, opening
like Bonnard’s open window,
larger than Earth. Nabi,
a prophet, sits cross-legged
and listens to the sea repeating itself
into our homes by night, salty fingers and lips,
while we answer the bells in their own tongue:
it’s not the day I see,
but the light held in a flowerpot, in leaves.
Late June cherries, le rouge
de tous les rouges,
scarlet goddess, siren color, stain.
A chair molded from ground,
walls stretch into a clock,
quick brushstrokes, fourteen birds on a wire.
I cannot sketch the contour
of your presence, I draw
with a fine line the frantic message of rain.
Repeated red—a man seated, bathers, a nude—
sculptures within the commotion.
This will make
a very good place to paint
he entered the room with joy.
(After “The Red Studio,” 1911, Matisse)
Rachel Galvin is a writer and editor for Humanities, the journal of the National Endowment for the Humanities. She has received fellowships at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Hedgebrook. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Spinning Jenny, Mars Hill Review, Comstock Review, and Nimrod.