Poem by Devon Miller-Duggan

This is from “Neither Prayer, Nor Bird”, Finishing Line Press 2013.

The Gallery
You’re strolling a city street, hand in hand with a beloved. The painting in the window catches your eye. You’ve never seen those colors before. And they keep changing while you stand there. Something like blue shivers into something like yellow; it’s almost music, as if the colors hang for a moment then go. Except that this is paint and canvas; you see brushstrokes.
There is a frame, solid and gilded, full of ecstatic rococo curves.
You go in, of course. You think of Rothko once you aren’t looking at the painting. Then you forget. All the paintings in the gallery are the same size. All the paintings have the same frame. All the paintings shiver and glow. You think of color as an idea—triune cones sorting among wavelengths of the spectrum, choosing yellow or blue, black or white, red or green, translating for the brain’s visual center— you think you never knew the truth of it. Then you forget.
Your beloved weeps quietly. She removes the pins from her hair; the mass floats over her back and shoulders. You move from painting to painting. Some, like the one that drew you in, breathe colors in and out of the spectrum. Others go on telling their stories in a language that sounds like flowers and the curled fingers of newborns. Others move in their frames, the colors themselves climbing ladders you believe are made of wings.
Your beloved embraces you wrapping you both in her hair, which has grown past her hips while you gazed at the paintings.
Outside on the concrete street again, You see the painting in the window has settled itself– depicts, simply, both sunrise and twilight. The sidewalk under your feet seems lit from beneath and riots with color. The sky bridging the tops of buildings hums.
You glance back, looking for the artist’s name. It’s in a corner, nestled into a swath of iridescent silk: An alphabet you’ve never seen, paper too old to survive the light and vibrations of passing feet. The gallery’s name, though, in gilt across the window: Angelus.


Light art piece by Dan Flavin

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