Poetry Porch: Poetry


Meditation on a Painting by Julio Galán

by Katherine Jackson

I float in a transport of turquoise and indigo.

Sleeping or deadI can’t say which.

A heart breaks up like a galaxy over my ear, and

above my knees, a white flame drifts, almost cool.

Do I dream I am the arid land that bore me, my ocher

limbs her long ridges, sinuously shaded?

One foot is bare, with painted toes. Beyond them,

a cactus flower (toe-like itself) has opened

amid spiky leaves. My arm cradles a carved fetish

dark and staring, with twisted roots for hair

as a child’s would a favorite doll in sleep.

I am a child, beatified, and encased in a mystic cubicle

of glass. A crew-cut of tiny lights encircles my body.

Who has put me here? Where is my mother?

Who has arranged my private symbology neatly

below me, my sacred story, the idols of my dream?

Those two Quattrocentro hills, umber miniatures,

caught by the sunhow odd they look, detached from

their countryside! one could be a seal’s nose, wrinkled,

brownit even balances a ball on its tip! The other

shoulders a verdant tree, bowed beneath a gleaming,

oversized apple. At the foot of each, a dark cave-mouth

protrudes (this doesn’t surprise mebut is the dreamer

ever truly surprised by his own dreams?). To the left,

I see my little bedit sits on top of another bed,

covered with roses. My lips are roses.

They are girl’s lips (I could well be a girl), and parted

as when children breathe in sleep. My head is tipped

down in a rapture of sleep. A symmetry of delicate

curves delineates my eyes, nose, brows, and my skin

has the pallor of a tea-rose against the carmine

neckband at my chin. Carmine dots sprinkle

my nightgown, which is fringed with clusters

of dots at the wrists and skirt-hem, in the style of

our native Coahilan prints. I am oblivious

sleeping or dead. I am a tea-rose, a petal,

a porcelain doll. I can see why people worship me.

Copyright © 2001 by Katherine Jackson.