September: Lake Wannsee, Berlin

August Kleinzahler

I would rather have been Dufy
with these sails and darkening clouds –
well, not Dufy, and this is not Le Sud:
better, say, Cranach,
had he been given to painting sails
against the day’s last light.
Perhaps there is a kind of sail in Mary’s eyes,
poor thing.
The Baltic night is moving in,
dragging its sombre quilt behind
like a filthy bridal train.
I would rather have enacted this in paint,
have the brushstrokes tell
what just passed through,
brightly at first
and then not, a glove of shadow across my sternum.

How much there is to know, to find,
should one step into the water and dive deep down
with a lamp and Baedeker,
a floor plan of the spirit museum
with its black onyx cloisters and galleries
that open one on the next
filled with jawbones, beetles, fiery gems,
tapestries almost water, immaterial,
bleeding signs.
Then set it down in paint,
the blacks, the greens and browns;
not explain.
Cumbersome words: imprecise, always hurrying
to catch up and never quite.
But further, further still:
even the painter must be destroyed
in order that one may become the paint.