Ut musica pictura
The flower stem leans sideways as it fades.
The curling leaves are brownish, burnt by time,
But here and there a color, olive-grey or lime,
Shines out: a pane, a memory of green.
Across the antique paper, lately saved
From fire or dustbin when the engraver closed
His now outmoded studio: two creases
Scored by a century, then year and number.
So paper has a memory, like flowers.
So too the artist, who still keeps his iris
Dark by the sunlit window that he painted
Over and over many months ago. And see,
Not just the picture but his sketches, trace
Of two ghost-flowers he didn’t draw, and left
Beside the one he did: magenta, orange, mauve.
Trace of the artist’s hand. And then the date.