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Monday, July 26, 2010


by Linda Lerner

There was no mistaking the similarity
between his cypresses  or sunflowers and
what I saw in that first photo flaming up from the ocean
that same thickly layered intensity;
I thought of the artist who
could have painted it, what madness
drove his mind, what madness to have
let what I looked at in awe happen...
death still unseen being washing up
on the shores of that photo
while I, struck by something so
utterly beautiful and terrible

as if it had nothing to do with that
sea bird I later saw dripping with oil
whose one visible  eye  filled with
such depthless sadness, as he sat immobilized
looking out helplessly at me from my computer.

What took my breath away
lingered independently of it
like smoke from a cigarette that brings back
the familiar warmth and excitement of  first times . . .
same cigarette that kills.
And it doesn’t matter.  As soon as
someone lights up . . .

Do you smoke they kept asking me in the hospital.
No I said.  Not now.  When?
If I’d said when everything was then
would they have understood anymore than
I can, who could see an explosion of beauty and art
in what destroys it . . . chokes the life out
of what’s alive

Author's Note: The title is taken from the poem “Easter 1916” by W. B. Yeats.
Linda Lerner's Something is Burning In Brooklyn was published by Iniquity Press in 2009. Her next collection will be published by New York Quarterly Press.