November 07, 2013


On the occasion of Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field, SFMOMA curator of public programs Frank Smigiel and poet and playwright Kevin Killian co-organized a small chapbook of poetry, beautifully hand-produced by Andrew Kenower and Lara Durback. We are posting selections from FIELD WORK on Open Space throughout the fall.

Seeing Red
C.D. Wright

Once we hit the rash light
  To a draft of jasmine
  The sere of fawn brown hills
  And woods dying back

We sense the remoteness
 Of objects we want to bring them near
 We want to climb and straddle them
 We fall in impossible unbearable love
 We are sensitive as cat’s whiskers
 We can almost hear a thumping bass line
 The clap of cymbals
 From an amphitheater under a bridge

We feel
 The land’s disappointment in us
 We prefer to be close to water that moves
 We witness the sequestering of trees
 Onto barren reservations
 With nothing to sustain them except
 An uncanny ability to reduce the amount
 Of water they draw out of the ground

During the invisible interim between
 Dream and dream’s loss

We head for the crashing crests
 We are told to avoid superficial persons
 In the month of August
 We are urged to make the most of our regrets
 While we wag back and forth in our outfits
 Like fishes with our mouths sewn shut
 Our long-playing sadness has been trained

To endure the official lies and restrictions
 Full tilt meannesses

But we are the thickheads
 Let us alone let us play
 We are big on red and things that stick out
 Things that dangle and sometimes spin
 Or simply stand there
 Stoic but reassuring

Disentangling our garble
 An armature risen quietly aloft over our heads
 Where before there was only neglect and fear
 And formlessness
 There are things that do not objectify
 Our being here but make it all the more imperative
 Not to wreck or run over things
 Not to go to pieces

We are big on red and peace in our time
 We are short on deal or no deal
 Our old familiar loneliness is sometimes
 Broken up by a shovel of brazen redness

Even if we were to suggest deeper problems
 Such as be aware of who is telling the story
 We are the ones keeping things alive
 We have invited all the kids to come
 When the leaves fan the evening
 We return to enviable
 Like lobsters we come to life at night

C. D. Wright was born and raised in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of more than a dozen books, most recently One With Others: a little book of her days, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize. She teaches at Brown University and lives outside of Providence.

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