The Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Society Prize
I Thought After Thirty
I would need no more work, the last
swath of black enamel fanned above
an unprimed canvas. I would be
complete. How did Pollock know, how
does anyone know when the work is done?
Days are strokes of color, layered, dripped,
flickered out to make a life, a body.
What connects these days changes
when you stand here, now there. See how
urgent some were, how some became nothing
but a kind of mist breathed out like clotted
blood from the lungs. On the last day, finally,
we hope to step back and make stories, make
sense of the mess. We dream like this, too.
Each moment of the day is numbered, paired
with a past memory. The brain adores order.
But there are so many to file away. The mind
becomes an obsessive, attaching meaning
when there was none. Whole years lost,
moving from point to point, thinking this
I will never forget. By morning, a mad pattern
that marries my first grade teacher to smoke,
and the light from the bay windows of our first
apartment to a yellow dress twirling, twirling.
A neural network with no answers, and only
answers at once. The artist wires a reply to time:
No chaos, Damn it. And he leaves a space
around the border. An omission, room for more.