• Luke Fischer
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The angel —

three years we waited intently for him …

We returned to our homes broken …*

—George Seferis

 

How could art come into being

without the angel’s presence?

Is absence enough a trace

of having been there—it sets

the search in motion—the footprint

left in the littoral sand

on the shore adjoining worlds,

indistinct but not quite washed away,

enough of a contour to render with a pen?

 

* * *

 

A year it’s been since I last wrote

and again I’ve no precise idea

of what I’m seeking, but I can almost

remember how everything seems to make sense

when it’s found.

 

* * *

 

I sit on an elevated balcony­­—

to my right a north-eastern shore

of the Aegean—in front of me

mountains of Lesbos

suffused with morning light,

the highest summit almost translucent

to the elusive blue.

 

* * *

 

Had Cézanne lived here

he would have painted this—

resembling but taller than Victoire—

a hundred times attempted to make visible

wings concealed in ridges of stone,

the Nike gazing across the sea

as far as the isle of Samothrace.

 

* * *                                                                                 

                                                                                    

When through the sense of sight

one can almost taste the dawn of the world

and the shrill, inhuman cry of circling swifts

almost sing it, why am I abandoned

to the remains of youth’s fire—

an unburnt log, sodden

and hollowed by termites?

 

* * *                                                                                 

 

Can I learn from Daedalus,

not to soar with his son’s reckless

ambition, but with focus to lift

a few feet from the ground?

Would this suffice to release

the world’s strings

like a palm raised from the neck

of a guitar, no longer dampening

the music of nimble fingers?

 

* * *                                                                                 

 

Two and a half thousand years ago

Sappho walked here, Sappho

who summoned the immortal beauty––

the angel of eros—Aphrodite

to ride her sparrow-drawn chariot

down from Olympus.

 

* * *                                                                                 

 

The summit is smudged by gray cloud.

Must I erase what I’ve written?

 

* * *

                                                                                                       

Cézanne spoke of how

as his vision

merged with the mountain,

the horizon enfolded him

in a second womb, his painting

an emerging embryo.

 

* * *

 

No art exists

outside relation.

But I must find a way

to build the bridge. And

if raised, whose light

feet might step across

its span of air?

 

 

 

 

* George Seferis, ‘Mythistorema’, Collected Poems, trans. Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard (Princeton University Press, 1995), 3.