Iowa Writes

JORIE GRAHAM
"For Mark Rothko"


Shall I say it is the constancy of persian red
that permits me to see
this persian red bird
come to sit now
on the brick barbecue
within my windowframe. Red,


on a field made crooked
as with disillusion or faulty
vision, a backyard in winter
that secretly seeks a bird. He has
a curiosity
that makes him slightly awkward,


as if just learning
something innate, and yet
there is no impatience,


                just that pose of his
                once between each move
                as if to say, and is this pleasing?

Shall I say it is the constancy of persian red
that permits me to see
this persian red bird
come to sit now
on the brick barbecue
within my windowframe. Red,


on a field made crooked
as with disillusion or faulty
vision, a backyard in winter
that secretly seeks a bird. He has
a curiosity
that makes him slightly awkward,


as if just learning
something innate, and yet
there is no impatience,


                just that pose of his
                once between each move
                as if to say, and is this pleasing?


                When I look again he is gone.
                He is easy to imagine
                in flight: red extended flame
                I would say, or, ribbon
                torn from a hat rising once
                before it catches


                on a twig
, or
                flying painted mouth . . .
                but then how far
                have we come?
                He could fly now
                into a moment of sunlight


                that fell from the sun's edge
                ten thousand years ago,
                mixed in with sunlight
                absolutely new.
                There is no way to understand
                the difference. Some red


                has always just slipped from
                our field of vision, a cardinal
                dropping from persian to magenta to white so slowly
                in order that the loss
                be tempted
                not endured.

more

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


JORIE GRAHAM

Jorie Graham's work has appeared in Antaeus and Poetry Northwest; her translations have appeared in Field.

"For Mark Rothko," published originally in the spring 1979 issue of The Iowa Review (10.2), can be found on the magazine's free online archives.

This page was first displayed
on September 03, 2013

Find us on Facebook