Striking Resemblance

Paul Hoover

Abundant life. A scatter of rooms
with Matisse-like windows.
Privately, we were charming.

The furniture stood within us.
Timid in space, there were many
pictures, permissions and desires,

and finally the water colors
dapper and Japanese, dubious
yet sincere. We discovered,

to our delight, that pavilions
are polite to famous little gods.
A sharp tan stick on cool white

flesh and yes tonight was finished.
We lay within the snow but leaned
back French. A photograph of hair

so uniformly gray the memory
loses heart. Intimate on canvas,
small fires blazed. We were not

Americans for nothing; we lived in
childish awareness of topography
and business. But to find

our faces imprinted on saucers
was something else again.
At the hour of evening when dogs

turn into dust and angels pierce
whatever they can with their sharp,
cruel tongues, abstraction and

her husband do whatever they do.
I have already said that we
were fond of trash. One might add

that our talk was so confusing
anyone could understand it.
In the once and future ego,

interval is all. "The time
for dark studies is short,"
Van Gogh wrote. We began

to paint portraits in smooth
black oils of uniformed men
posing with their gods.

Whenever we photographed it,
dead nature moved. I write
of course without knowledge

of English. Over a prospect
of water, the uniquely dull
sound of a bell fills my mind

with sod. Is this Cape Cod
with its windblown houses,
patches of salt grass growing

through sand? Irony knits
the world. Form evolves force.
Landscape rushes forward

with its ancient argument,
tirelessly experimental
yet conforming to one rule.

We're caught looking.
When a large body of water
encounters the sky, only

a ship, red in the distance,
breaks illusion's eye.
Are we in the worlds we are?

My writing is internal,
but you are here beside me,
in a "dead cat bounce" that means

recuperation is never completely
ours--although, of course, ideal.
It's a lovely day for a furnace.

The mottled white of the sky
hardly seems real. The floor
is quite real, but not a boat

going over the edge of water
as if heaven cared for the earthly
shape of itself, and if not not.

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