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This painting has a secret:
While its flaring candy-colored and tight
blood-deep blossoms seize the eyes,
below, half-way down the vase,
a quiet transmutation occurs,
making out of grey-muted pastel blobs
a place where colorless air
becomes colorless water--haunted
by faint cloudy hints of all the tints
it lacks: green, grey, pink, mauve....
Above the glass, each stem glistens,
rounded and tactile. In the glass,
they flatten and fade, and at the place
of magic, where they plunge
into colorless colors, they turn distant,
strange to the eyes' touch, dealing
only through intermediaries, crooked
rays of light one cannot trust;
no doubt they have secret dealings
with the dull-hued spirits of household
water, and of their soft tinctures create
their bursts of vivid flame.
If you stand too near the canvas,
the magic surface (where straight stems
are separated from the ritual dance
of their reflections among shadows)
disappears, leaving a crude grey line
in its place, but if you back away,
when you reach an equally exact
and invisible point (as if, in the air
between you and the painting exists
another place of magic, a transparent
membrane, from one side of which,
the painting's reflection makes us feel
we are not cut off)--when you reach
that point, the water surface reappears,
clear and delicate as crystal,
separating two worlds in a glass vase.

Dean Blehert

Last Updated: October 6, 2002

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