Poetry at Sangam




Barely there, if at all,
the one that got away,

against the wall,

it’s only air where art
could have been; the stroke

of seconds that slip between
what is night, and what

might be a dream.
Maybe she was a student

who never had to pose again;
a doctor’s patient never seen.

Half invisible, half known,
barely mysterious, just

browning greys, greens.
A face that happens

to remain, almost a boy –
because to form is to decide

only the name
makes her a girl, and even then,

she looks past that decision.
She looks:

she has a bare face. It is a body
that’s undone. Whatever

didn’t happen happened
for a reason, or none;

imagination’s lost address,
a day the umbrella stayed at home

and wasn’t needed
when it failed to rain;

the time the prayer was unsaid
at the graveside

of the passerby in the lane
quick and never dead.

She isn’t quite alive,
but that’s the same with most paint.

Her being fractional
makes her heart beat fainter;

at least it’s possible to hear
her breath out-gathering

like a song one ought to know
but can’t quite place

on the mirror she kept in
her purse on the day

she almost came
to Whistler’s studio.