Tempus Fugit #2

Sometimes the muse is kind. You have an idea for something, when suddenly, after much work, the subject veers off in a new direction and the only thing you can do is follow. The experience is scary and thrilling.

And, if all goes well, you actually find the place toward which the muse was pointing. Stranger still is finding that another artist has been there before you, only he painted it with words. Such is the case with Tempus Fugit #2. The poet W.S. Merwin wrote a poem titled To the Gift of Sight, which I found in his book of poems titled Present Company, published by Copper Canyon Press. It’s an extraordinary poem about time, illusion, and the layers of life and meaning that sometimes emerge, in layers, from below the surface of the water. I’d like to share the poem with you, and urge you to look up this wonderful poet for your own reading pleasure and inspiration.

TM8357 Tempus Fugit #2 36x36 oil on panel

TM8357 Tempus Fugit #2 36×36 oil on panel

To the Gift of Sight

What has happened to my eyes
I ask the distances
these days when the light is here
disclosing the late pages
the first leaves of spring
the gray river again
holding the still sky
that shines through it
down in the valley

it is not long ago
that I believed what I saw
without a shadow of a doubt
clear contours letters
sharp figures standing for
themselves in my eyes

yet I could see then
how the time kept hiding
moments behind themselves
one after the other
a day at a time
behind the present
and the years were seen only through
each other wit their outlines
melting into each other
until they were no longer
immediate or distinct

now those seasons and meanings
inside each other
as one cast a floating
penumbra around themselves
they wear a veil in the light
that makes me prize the glimpse
of them I have
the naked skin of the world
whatever of it can be seen

it uncurls in the cold light
and faces surface
and folded wings
in the water of morning

Below are two details from my painting.

TM8357 Tempus Fugit #2 - detail from upper right

TM8357 Tempus Fugit #2 – detail from upper right

TM8357 Tempus Fugit #2 - detail from lower left

TM8357 Tempus Fugit #2 – detail from lower left

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