All that is fluid in a body–
twist and shout, glide and stretch–
the lava of living, thickens to sludge,
a boulder strapped to every gesture,
a hand pressed down heavy on the turntable of speech,
from stride to shuffle
(though still spine straight, Buddha-calm.)
His last paintings: fire. Leaping flames, orange
and red, over and over. . .
Imagine: the hand that held
the brush, the pen,
stiffening to a rusty claw
no oil can lubricate.
No more synaptic leap
from thought to act,
the wide vista of the ordinary
clanged shut, final as a prison gate.
His walk slows further
from shuffle, to stasis, to full stop.
Future sizzles, shrinks, gone.
Lips part, try to articulate
but the holy breath flutters in his throat,
a dying bird.
Through the windows
of his eyes, we see a spark
in the blue iris. Feel him lean
toward. Then away.
Where do you go, John?
What Chagall circus
tumbles through your mind? Can you dissolve
into Monet’s peaceful aquatics, or is it all Rembrandt
in there, chiaroscuro, night closing in? Or do you fly
with Giotto’s radiant angels?