On Fixing Things

I have left this blog dormant for nearly a year, but as the ice on the pond on campus has finally broken, so too has my dry spell. Apropos during Napowrimo, I suppose.

Today, while clarifying some instructions for my creative writing students, I fixed a poem that has been vexing me for nearly 20 years. Or at least, if it’s not fixed, it’s better than it was the last time I looked at it over two years ago. I still don’t really like the title but I am happier with this poem than I’ve been with anything I’ve written in a long time. 

I like ekphrastic poetry–especially about photographs. The poems that got me accepted into the School of the Art Institute of Chicago‘s brand-new MFA program in 1996 (deferred to 1997) were based on photographs taken on an extra-mural studies trip to Paris in December 1992. As I haven’t scanned those photos, I have to rely on the magic of the web for Christopher Parr/ Christian Milet over at pursuitist.com for photos of the grounds at the Palace of Versailles in winter:




A walk through the winter gardens at Versailles

carrying silence between us

like an injured child


Near the empty fountain of Apollo’s sun chariot

stands another statue covered in pea-green canvas

arm stretched out to lace fingers

with dormant trees


This stillness hangs heavy-bellied

and nameless while the wind

through the fountain speaks to him

of white spaces and windows

in a house I will never see


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