Holy Colors  /  John Singer Sargent                          Finds the Wind

Craig Finlay

Holy Colors

Holy colors - deep autumn orange and          yellows and reds. I can imagine strapping a crown of twigs to my head, and a mask for my face, and dancing the round dances through fields pregnant with corn and soybeans, until I collapse roadside in spent, orgasmic satiation. A dance of submission, of humble, beseeching desperation in this insulating and forgotten tract of Illinois. A place no one travelled unless it was home, or else accidentally. And then to make these offerings. To hang a deer from its back legs, to open its throat, to quench the thirst of the gods in the grass. To return a   stillborn child to the soft earth by the new moon. To return to work in the hammer       factory of the field on Monday, while heaving Gaia breathes into life the dawn’s fog, the    distant deer on the frost-flecked grass, the steam of the Casey’s breakfast pizza, the colors of our grandparents’ dens. So dark, that   blood-black wood.

John Singer Sargent Finds the Wind​

Americans are always shocked that they breathe differently abroad. In hindsight—it’s so very obvious. Does the water from the tap not taste different even on the coasts? That’s not what Madame X was thinking as she looked off to the side of that room. German air, Swiss air. John Singer Sargent - and we know not to trust a man with three names - famously brought jars of Tuscan air with him when he moved to London. It was the inspiration for Dracula’s boxes of soil - Bram Stoker saw the painter with his face buried in a jar, crying for home. Later, when John asked, the winds  started. Waves of them, lashing the rain into London, clearing the London Fog for a time. He released himself and began a slow spiral upward. How the crowds cheered, watching the winds hold John Singer Sargent to her breast so he could feed.

Craig Finlay is a poet and librarian currently living in rural southern Oklahoma. His debut collection, The Very Small Mammoths of Wrangel Island, is forthcoming from Urban Farmhouse Press.

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