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.
to mix—to paint over—attar of lilac-elixir lamp black;
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
in half, a thick
impasto; here, where
we exit: black
Stephanie Strickland is the author of many books, many of which have been published in print and in interactive hypermedia formats. Her work includes How the Universe Is Made, Poems New & Selected (1985-2019), V : WaveTercets / Losing L'una, Dragon Logic, Zone: Zero, True North, Ringing the Changes, and Give the Body Back. She edited What’s Become of Eden: Poems of Family at Century’s End, and co-edited, with Anneliese Wagner, River Poems. Strickland’s poetry was included in Best American Poetry 2013. Strickland has taught at the University of Utah and the Georgia Institute of Technology. She lives in New York City.