Ut musica pictura

Poem by Emily Grosholz

Farhad Ostovani, <i>Iris Noir</i>, 2008

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.


 American Arts Quarterly, Spring 2011, Volume 28, Number 2