“Painting a wave requires no system,”
The painter said, painting a wave.
“Systems may get you flotsam and jetsam,
Seaweed and so forth. But never a wave.”
There was a scroll or fine-lined curve
On the canvas first, and then what looked
Like hair flying or grayish nerves,
Which began to move as the painter worked.
“Painting the sea is a lot of trouble;
It never stops still for a moment, so
I try to make it internal, mental,
As though I stopped it, then let it go.”
Something began to pulse and tumble
Out of the brushes, the ink, the chalk;
A long black line commenced to tremble,
Then, like a fishline, started to jerk . . .
With what at the end? “I think I’ve caught it.”
A drop of water hung by a hair.
“If I could only stop it a minute!”
The drop began to race somewhere,
Spreading out in every direction,
A bird of thread, caught in a storm,
Trying to say, “Connection! Action!”
But in the end it was very calm.
Soon there was water under water,
And over the sand a sun . . . a moon?
Who could have seen that wave of water
One night ago? Or a thousand and one?
Who could have seen the lid of water
With its thin mascara of buoys and corks,
With its lined horizon’s distant glimmer
Of maybe a skyline like New York’s?
Now there will be that morning evening
Tide dyeing the water’s pulse,
The wave drying in ink. The Wave.
Moving, momentous, motionless.