David Carlson

The Necessary Light

The harbor is a wash
of ultramarine, flat,
spread into distance,
hatched with loose flecks 
of Prussian blue, underneath
a frothing of gouache.

The mountains are cut paper,
stacked triangles hewn
from overlapping browns,
connecting planes that grant
the impression of a road
forever curving out of view.

The bottle is a grid,
crosshatched green lines,
whose segments close ranks,
ink mimicking the border
between light and shadow,
between table and glass.

But the crux is the horizon,
the point between, mark 
of our mutual vanishing.
And the eye is the clerestory
through whose panes pass
the necessary light.

Still Life with Pear

Pear on the table.
What can I touch
besides roundness, age, and light?
You trouble a pause on my page 
that affords a trace of time, 
for your skin holds a record
in its sequence of hues.
I need my brush to catch
as the water moves,
the first curled wave of color
leaching yellow into pulp.
The sun moves, too, as I wash
green and green and green
over your flesh.
The leaves will come later
in this resurrection. 

David Carlson is Professor of English at California State University San Bernardino, where he has taught for twenty years. David is founding co-editor of Transmotion (an online, open access journal of indigenous studies hosted by the University of Kent). His poems have appeared in Pacific Review, Inlandia, and Poemeleon. He is also an amateur painter, working primarily in watercolor.

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