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Two Poems, by Stephanie Strickland

Top of the World

Roaring torrents of snow, trumpeting
white, flailing, sifting, piling on,
fleecing the town, and—not to be stopped—

covering cracks, crowning towers, frosting black
asphalt paths and park bench beds, spread far
below these walls of glass, flecked with wet lace,

downy flake, snow splat. Silver tears muddle
our view running down heated panes—then hit
the sill, buried at last. We smile. Deep freeze

hardens fairyland, keeps it on ice as degrees
fall outside, easy wind—red light
flows in slow lines. No promise to keep. Only miles

to go, before they’re all put to sleep. The air
out there, invisible coal, mercury mist.


Rothko Retrospective at the Guggenheim

Winding our way to the top
to start at the start, to see the beginning of his career,
we are ringed

with infusion as we descend—careen—incandescent fields, a tincture
drawing us down, the arterial, venous, maroon stain
these ‘screen doors’ are steeped in.

Enormous doors, for a giant to slam and stride out on the ramp;
or for an angel of history to rise from, struggling to hover,
trapped in the wavering inner

borders, here, halfway—halfway on—
in his work,
clamped off: a ruled edge.

Rothko begins
to mix—to paint over—attar of lilac-elixir lamp black;
calling brown

red, in his titles, orchid red, even green.
Overhead the whole spiral is thronging with color,
each canvas a chord,

a concert of hue mounted hue upon
hue until halo halo-O opens
auroral . . . but

less. Less triad. Less trio,
less color. This—last—hung
ground-level, cut

in half, a thick
impasto; here, where
we exit: black

above black-


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