By Patricia Nelson

Hook for the Masterpiece 

The weight of line and shade still hangs.  
A frame holds the glow they made of it: 
The kingdom of smoking fuels, 
the art with its light-craving dervish.  
Women made of shadow and the world.  
Brown rats that squeaked and bit them.  
Crowns of dead metal stamens. Fevers 
or sainthood that might seize them like a light. 
On the wall a battle empties like a sunset: 
Angels, eyes-up bodies, devils wafting.  
A king’s win burning, 
stinking of its need to be visible. 
We who are far from the battle lean toward it  
like sails white with belief.  
Saints with a stir of shine on our heads,  
a smolder of dawn on our palms.

The Garden and the Thorns 

Pony Ride, a painting by Horst Gottschalk 
The light in the garden holds a boy  
and the stillness of a small white horse.  
The boy wears a feather in his hat and turns  
the small blue circles of his eyes. 
Beyond the circle of color and light  
is the unkempt dark of fir and thorns—   
a strangeness, a tilt as of hills  
or the marks where the sea wave went   
that lifts and bends its creatures.  
And knowing, which is also strange—and cold. 
The black where wishes rise like swarms. 
The shadow that bolts when you mount it  
with your jaunty little hat. 

Why the Saints Are Quiet 

Home is a primal wind. 
It rocks as the willows do 
or the round womb. 
The saints have found it.  
They have touched   
the moon-smooth thread  
that asks for stillness and gives light. 
They move as the pliant clouds do,  
white with memory. 
The saints are calm in Heaven,  
sway in its sky like weather.  
They know why they are there. 
The saints are still  
when the stars come close.  
The stars remember them  
like the scent-filled noses of animals. 

Patricia Nelson is a former attorney who lives in Northern California and now writes environmental and other poetry.

One thought on “Hook for the Masterpiece and Other Poems

  1. I enjoyed all three of Patricia Nelson’s poems. They definitely struck a chord with me. “A frame holds the glow they made of it” from her poem “Hook for the Masterpiece” marked the beginning of what I saw as a series of visual images that, again, could be discussed endlessly by a class that was very much interested in poetry. Frank Kowal


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