THIS IS NOT ABOUT PEARS
Cézanne was wrong, or rather correct
in his error, error an hourglass crack
through which motion escapes, divides
page center. Do I make his abstract
crevice too concrete? Formed by two
bulbous pear ends, proximity anchors
composition, at least here's where
he draws my eye, intersects pencil line
with pencil line until one edge opens
one edge. This is not a still life; still
lifes are rarely still. If motion escapes
motion must exist, if not in the pears
(for this is not about pears) then perhaps
outside the plate where the contours
of gathered drapery, organic fronds
blasts of black and blue highlight
stillness, or rather, its erasure. If not
cloth, then mark the fronds' energy
Cézanne's eye caught : object vibrations
rendered in hues at once complimentary
and contradictory to pear hues. Motion
radiates, spirals off, escapes in chaos.
A curious form expands like calipers;
river entering ocean, it is both exit
and entrance, the convergence of pure
violet line and periwinkle wash a road
that disappears beneath plate, a bent
wishbone unbroken in the commotion.
The pears—centered, harnessed—say no,
this is not about us, about how we
are represented. We could very well
be apples, peaches, oranges, a flower,
guitar or vase. We are merely a study
of groupings, the unstable motion
when objects approach touch. We are
watercolor, not oil; pencil and paper,
not canvas. Perhaps they do not know
of their contemporary, Pot of Flowers
and Pears, where our three-quarter
view Anjou shares its pose with Bosc.
Which brings me to color. The pears
reflect themselves onto a plate made
of semi-circular lines, brush takes
tans, yellows, browns, muddies
them, makes squiggles to indicate
shade and shadow, plate rimmed
with color, object reflecting objects.
Sienna, ocher pigments stroke pear
bulge, hint of green where shadow
gathers thickest, muted, earthy
color bound by gray pencil marks,
whole sections left white, not blank,
but the white where light lifts form
into pears (even though this is not
about pears). As a document of the way
Cézanne saw, this work marks evolution :
pears still bound by line, color still
within the line, yet the drapery looks
forward, folds toward floating color,
its identity independent from the object.
Dissolved outlines form a scumbled
crevice through which light escapes,
dissipates, reminding us of error's
beauty, that this is not about pears,
most certainly not about pears.
PARED & CANNED
Name : Forelle. Home : South
Africa. From one angle
the Bartlett bell, thought not
as supple, skin more like
an apple's : green with a touch
of blush from base to stem-
tip, the whole big bulge
freckled in burnt umber.
Cinnamon and russet,
a Bosc pear cut into four
creates three-sided pieces :
two flat planes that converge
in a spinal line like the edge
of a prism while the third
surface slopes and bloats.
The whole shape a cello :
long neck and wide base
with two dark pits where
seeds wink like sound holes
air drying-out skin sheen
ivory stained sepia.
In the factory, do they pare
Forelle, Bosc, meditate
on shape, color, or are they
satisfied with oval Anjous,
paring like they pare apples?
Start at the top, slice
under, wind down, skin
slipped in one strip, snapped
back to slap a now hollow core.
Sliced in halves, quarters, de-
pitted inside fails to realize
outside shape, something new :
tongue sucks down slippery meat,
concentrated juices, thick syrup.
Guilty pleasure, $0.69 a can.
A SIDE OF A FRUIT BOX CRATE
The simple things of life : a wrinkle
slashes the label from the far arm
of 'T' in TRADER down through RIVER's
'V' and 'R' in PEARS, white at the high
points where color abraded an orange
background to form new whitecaps, navy
ocean. The wrinkle fades into black
wave backs, blotches rimmed with green, flattened
like the trade ship's direct perspective.
A hole in the sail reveals not sky
but wood grain as glue lines striate faux
sky and bisect the wrinkle : a palm
crease, a stylized sunset rendered
from memory. Three tiers of burnt sails
echo the mid mast sails as the ship
cuts water, white froth caught against hull,
light source imaginary, outside
the frame casting half the hull pure black,
froth and paint-scrape the only whites found
as one line strung taut round its pulley
echoes the white wrinkle. Fiery
trim highlights mast and line, picturesque,
true, but saved oddly enough by its
commercial composition : TRADER
in the sky, tomato red letters
outlined in yellow used for tiny
BRAND. To the left REG U.S. PAT. OFF
rests under TR parted from BRAND
by the wrinkle. PEARS hover above
the sea crowned by ROGUE RIVER VALLEY.
A blue pyramid—PACKED AND SHIPPED BY
on one line, ____oot AND COMPANY
INC. on the second—anchors the ship,
a large gash erasing half the first
word, MEDFORD OREGON, USA
cropped, CONTENTS 4/5 BUSHEL balanced.
SCHMIDT L. CO. PORTLAND OR a narrow
streak of script not to read, not to see
the ad as it appears here today,
antique, fifty years since pre-printed
boxes replaced the labels pasted
on a crate's cracked side, but its land-mass
as it roams like a coast eroded
by a wood grain sea, punctuated
by nail head islands, the scrape and grate
against other crates as they tasted
the faded 500 scrawled beyond
the ad's map edge and flung the graphite
coordinates into bits. The bits
rediscovered bit by bit persist.
THIS IS NOT ABOUT PEARSs:
I like words like no and not and nor. I read a poem that started "Cezanne is right" and immediately thought "No. Cezanne was wrong" in part out of jealousy for this other poet mentioning pears, in part because I distrust outright affirmation. The negating statement became the opening line that helped revise a rough early version of this poem. And thankfully the other poem in question ends with an understanding of negative space—"the blanks."
PARED AND CANNED:
Pears aren't all surface. Nor are they all fresh produce. Here's to canned fruit!
A SIDE OF A FRUITBOX CRATE:
Old crates. Love em. Realized I had been using this one as a bookshelf for years without fully noticing the old label on its side. The moment of re-discovery was as thrilling as the moment I found this line in an Elizabeth Bishop letter: "Yesterday I was allowed a pear—and I never tasted anything so delicious in my life—so it is going to be nice to re-discover the simple things of life bit by bit..."