Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Film

The last radio show

Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion is such a deconstructionist’s dream that you almost expect the late Jacques Derrida to make a cameo appearance. Talk about reality’s insubstantiality: here we have the cinematic version of a beloved radio program, now over three decades old, whose sly conceits play on a homespun America that barely existed.
Poetry

The recovery of buried poems

Root is what I am, rootpoet
here at home among the worms,
finding here the poem’s terms.”
—Miklos Radnoti, August 8, 1944
If, as it seems, art is nothing, nothing at all—
some sleep only that lulls us toward trees,
what to make of these poems, Miklos,
where you ordered a life into lines?
That brutal stumble through the mountains
might have said enough. Or those curses sneered
by villagers, one pausing near the water well
to dust and dust his sleeves. Finally, you with the rest,
worn through, too settled for another step,
were forced to dig and dig your graves, then

kneel at last on the uncalmed earth there.
What is that light against the fields? Why,
after all that had been done? They sought
to sever tongues from thoughts—those soldiers,
certain in their silence, who carved from hurt
this tender fruit words could have grown
and given seed. Miklos, these hidden poems,
found folded in your pocket. . . . Prove, history,
how the world speaks deeper than decay:
this murmur pulled from underground,
with its challenge of a purer sound and song.

Poetry

Climbing the pasture, I lowered my head

Through lashes,
saw the weave of the crocus
blowing backwards, and in this motion
recognized my life,
the full sadness of existence,
but wanted it still:
the earth and its sugars, these days
like a bridge I could cross.
Poetry

Perspective

In medieval paintings, the cobbler stood just inches high
        beside the saints, who rose like water towers,
until Brunelleschi thought up single point perspective,

and proved it, lines receding to a speck on the horizon.
        Once people saw it, they couldn’t forget:
the statues and churches kneeling to just one lover.

How thrilling! To stand at the commanding point.
         Each of us at the center! It’s the great
myth of the personal. Dutiful art teachers swung

the myth in buckets to the next teachers
        until generations later, it bears
the heft of Truth. That is, it did, until the night

I drove the death car, when the sky slit open
        to admit two headlights, double moons
drilling larger and larger holes through darkness

as they bore their terrible gift, two thousand pounds
         of metal toward me, and suddenly I saw the flaw
in Brunelleschi’s myth of the personal. Which of us

can bear to hold the whole world on his lap?
         I swerved then, or something swerved me,
spinning the steel off center so the car did not kill me.

Instead, I floated briefly, picking the lock of the improbable,
        feeling like a patron suspended
in a medieval painting—that one wearing

his everyday red hat and blue cloak,
        keeping his face businesslike,
trying not to say AhHa as he strides up the golden sky.



















Poetry

The Sistine Chapel

On the scaffold twenty meters up
tracing her head in the damp plaster,
Michelangelo knows it’s going to take
more than a breath to make Adam drop
his can’t-be-bothered pose, too bored
to stand even at God’s charged arrival,
held aloft by a crew of hard-working cherubs
who struggle to maintain lift long enough
for contact to occur: a critical maneuver
of the right hand complicated by the added
weight of Eve on whom His left arm rests.
Drops of paint freckle his face as he wonders
how many priests will take offense
but concludes that only skin to skin will do.
Without it, Adam’s forever grounded.
God’s touch is first. Hers is next.