Daniel Lusk

Nocturne No. 2 in E Flat Major

Listening to Chopin while dusting
a treasured clay pot on my shelf, round
as a cantaloupe. On its shoulder, a subtle sheen
where ash, rising like smoke in the heat
of a wood fire at the base of the kiln

to swirl for a night and a day
among the naked rows of jars and pots,
settled weightlessly at last

here where my duster of sheep’s wool
busses away ephemera, as it seems, of time
from a whorl like the areola of a lover’s breast
amid umber constellations that were but clouds
of gases we believe we might have touched
in a distant galaxy and time.

And here, the delicate lip defines
an open mouth, too small for any
but an infant’s hand to probe inside
where the potter (ear and heart to the thrum
of his wheel) augured the slip,
within and without, a membrane apart,
as the clay took shape.

We may imagine whatever we like
in that black nothingness—a small spider
in a brown fedora, smoking a cheroot.
Minding a tiny packet of shadows
he will unfold if you ask. You may be sorry.

We may also imagine the artist’s handmaid
at work with brush and broom, modest
in her chambray shirt, moving with easy grace
among the jars and pots, milk jugs, pitchers
and giant vases of a studio that smells
of earth and cloves and stale tobacco.

Notice how the music of the piano lingers
like a slow rain on a stranger’s roof.

As Beauty Does

Who would not love
the painter’s model, her mouth
on canvas bleeding from a kiss.

The cat’s paw birthmark
on bold Samantha’s thigh made famous
by the coming in of mini-skirts.

A sleepwalker
naked about the neighborhood
but for morning fog.

Or Nurse Pushkin,
eyelids fluttering, asleep beside me
just before her apartment fire.

I’ve known beauty and know beauty still.

Daniel Lusk is author of several poetry collections and other books, most recently The Shower Scene from Hamlet, poems, The Vermeer Suite, art and poems, and a poetry memoir, Girls I Never Married. His work has earned awards that include a Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize from Nimrod International Journal and a Pushcart Prize for his genre-bending essay, “Bomb.” His poems appear in Poetry Ireland, The Iowa Review, Poetry, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Indiana Review, Massachusetts Review, Salamander, The Tahoma Review, Poetry Northwest, The Southern Review, and other journals.



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