Suzanne Cleary
December 2003


Almost Away

                after "Old Gold Over White" by Mark Rothko

Two squares floating
on a peach-colored ground,

the gold of a copper clothes-kettle,
the other
the green-white of sweetpeas,

color without object
becomes color as object,
planes become places:

a frost-covered lawn,
one square of the plaid blanket
a man keeps in his car trunk.

There must be a way to live
without being in the world,
without being myself-in-the-world.

All the edges are hazy,
seem to tremble,
the small movements

of emphasis, erasure.
Inside, mottled, gauze-like,
the brushstrokes are visible,

the hand, one could say,
its thinking

present, product.
It is not enough
to be productive

but to understand you have been
so. I am looking
for the place of importance,

the plane
of standing barefoot in wet grass,
breath taken

almost away
with the coolness.
There must be a way

to be free of the body,
free of scale,
the world of the painting entirely

spirit, though texture
implies touch,

the desire to touch.
There must be a way
to be free of the self

free of seeing oneself
in everything,
where it does not belong.

from Keeping Time, Carnegie Mellon 2002.