Thursday, April 7, 2011

8 of 30

After Bocklin's Die Toteninsel or "Isle of the dead"

Again and again, you painted it,
the island, the boatman with the draped casket,
the trees growing towards black,
the doorway harser, oblong

an island like a broken tooth,
dim windows in the rock face, 
a glass sea, avalon and ys

how they almost claw the sky,
that black and frozen fire
of cypress, the hole in the world,

where you lost eight of your fourteen children
"a dream image" you called it, but she knew
that not-yet countess with the name of your child,
and asked you to paint in the casket,
her husband, dead of diptheria
the woman in white that will not face us

and once they were there, you went back to the first version
and painted them there, and every one after
like photographs of the same endless day

He knew it too, that charnel house builder,
that gravedigger with the Chaplin moustache,
knowing something of the kingdom behind that door
he  bought it and hung it in the Berghof, 
then the Reich Chancellery in Berlin
where it hung through the war

One version  lost in a bombing raid,
 a fire of german marks and pound notes, 
a burning bank in the skeleton of a city, 
a sacrifice, holocaust, library of alexandria
adornment for Dis, for Xibalba

still they row towards black,towards the stone house
the tiny coffin, the faceless pscyhopomp
the rower, in the still and ceaseless day


No comments:

Post a Comment